Alcoholic Faith Mission – Ask Me This

Alcoholic Faith Mission – Ask Me This

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Here’s the first dichotomy: great band name, terrible album cover. And therein lies the pivotal point that makes Ask Me This, the fourth full-length from Copenhagen-based band Alcoholic Faith Mission. Ask Me This is an album built around polar opposites: rapturous vocals give way to abrasive melodies, sweetly cooed lines are struck with stark, immediate imagery and song titles give false impressions of the sounds beneath them.

Ask Me This starts as a near-holy intonation. Four part harmony captured by what sounds like a choir of voices in a Gothic church unloads into a grander building of melody and structure. “Down From Here” is utterly striking as an album opener and AFM sound upbeat and enlivened as they sing the album’s opening lyrics: “can’t go anywhere, but down from here.”

Well, that’s not true at all. But if it takes a self-defeating attitude to craft an album of moody, pop gems, then I say let the personal flogging begin. And begin it does on tracks like “I’m Not Evil,” a piano-laced tune that repeats its title until fadeout, and on “We Need Fear,” a crafty mellotron and synth number about everything from raw sexuality (“you’re conveniently naked”), economic disparity (“the rich are getting richer”) and military opposition (“board our troops and bring ‘em home”). “Into Pieces” is a close to chamber pop as this sextet comes, but they filter it through a classically-tinged piano line and some clinging sleigh bells that intone throughout, then cap it off with a wall of fuzzy guitar noise. But “Running With Insanity,” the album’s four minute centerpiece, is where AFM achieve pop perfection. A stray harmonica starts seemingly by accident, until it becomes the percussive beat for a barroom stomp of acoustic guitar, hand claps and tambourine. “I might be insane,” is all we hear on the chorus.  True, but if this what insanity sounds like, where can I buy the drugs?

“How does this all work together?” I’ve asked myself a few times during the course of Ask Me This’ trim 35 minutes. AFM wield the handling of six members, a multitude of instruments and styles and pop songwriting then coalesced it into something altogether unique. But what is uniqueness without listenability and enjoyment? Which is where AFM succeed in droves. Not only do they embrace a unique brand of European pop but they make it sound effortless and fulfilling to listen to. That’s the kind of faith you won’t get from many bands.


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