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'West': Oddly Warm and Instantly Memorable

The Austin band The Alice Rose writes pop songs that sound strangely familiar and utterly new.
The Austin band The Alice Rose writes pop songs that sound strangely familiar and utterly new.

The masters understand that the key to a great pop song lies in the ability to mine that place in the hippocampus where beloved melodies and the bittersweet moments they memorialize commingle. In this regard, The Alice Rose's Phonographic Memory is one of the most apt titles for a pop album in ages. Think about hearing a classic tune by Squeeze for the first time, and it's easy to understand how special this Austin-based band is: Every song on its debut sounds both strangely familiar and utterly new.

An especially noteworthy example, "West," opens like a modern emo-rocker, but then it dissolves into a simple piano-driven ballad, as if it were a demo tape from Brian Wilson's late-'60s period. With sweetly sincere lyrics — "Over-hanging memory wilts / The heartbeat began / Tipped gladly in hand over everything I have" — the song simply blooms, sounding oddly warm and instantly memorable in the process.

Listen to yesterday's 'Song of the Day.'

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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David Brown
David Browne is a contributing editor of Rolling Stone and the author of Goodbye 20th Century: A Biography of Sonic Youth and Dream Brother: The Lives and Music of Jeff and Tim Buckley. His work has also appeared in The New York Times, The New Republic, Spin and other outlets. He is currently at work on Fire and Rain, a book that will track the lives and careers of The Beatles, Simon & Garfunkel, James Taylor and Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young during the pivotal year of 1970.
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