New Politics is one of my favorite artists to see live for their invigorating stage presence, but their latest album, An Invitation to an Alternate Reality, brings the same amount of energy straight into your headphones.
Released on November 1, 2019, An Invitation to an Alternate Reality is the Danish group’s fifth studio album, coming after their tenth anniversary in April 2019. Keeping with previous releases, the record contains New Politics’ infectious instrumental lines and snappy diction, but also introduces new elements, such as hints of ska and reggae influences.
The first track of the album is “Unstoppable,” and its title serves as a good descriptor. Turning the energy levels to a 10, New Politics utilizes horn lines and catchy choruses to create a captivating experience that is at once a New Politics classic and something completely new and unexpected. When singing along, listeners will feel empowered and able to do anything: “How many stars in the sky tonight? / I wanna run now, it’s my time / Can’t hold me down, I was born to rise / And I feel like I’m alive / I’m never gonna live my life the same / I’m gonna make it out, I’m gonna change / Can’t hold me down, I was born to rise / And I feel like I’m alive.”
“Bad for Me” takes the reggae vibes to the next level. Steady-plodding rhythms in the bassline and phrasing of the lyrics give the track a smooth groove throughout its twists and turns. Tropical percussion and stuttering production of the song’s vocals add further style into every part of the final product, resulting in a relaxed, complex second song that adds a lot to the overall aesthetic of An Invitation to an Alternate Reality.
“Ozone’s” beginning is something out of a church choir, but quickly cuts to sharp, pop-style vocals accompanied by a variety of well-produced effects. Perfect for listeners who enjoyed the punch of “Unstoppable,” “Ozone” is another track that highlights the band’s electronic-pop roots, but brings elements of their continuously developed style into play as well.
“Live the Life/It’s the Thought That Counts” continues the nostalgia for previous fans in its phrasing and electronic production mixed with positive lyrics and catchy, full choruses. Dynamic in its shifts, “Live the Life…” covers a lot of ground in just three minutes and fifty-one seconds. While it is not, in my opinion, a standout track for the album, it serves for uplifting, easy listening with interesting production elements.
“Suspension” is much more electronic than previous tracks, reminiscent of 2000’s pop groups such as the Black Eyed Peas. While it is not my favorite song of the album, nor my favorite facet of New Politics’ sound, it will likely appeal to the listeners who enjoy their more heavily produced tracks with less ska or rock influences.
“Let Your Head Go/Pretend It’s 1995 & Talk” reminds me a lot of the tracks in New Politics’ earlier album, A Bad Girl in Harlem. Bright instrumentals join electronic zips and zaps to highlight the storytelling and characterization in the delivery of the lyrics: “Cherry bomb lips, twisted with your hips / You’re burning up the skyline (Burning up the skyline) / Standing on the edge, share your cigarette / Show me what it feels like…. / We lose our voices, screaming all night long / Dancing in the dark just brings things up / We don’t need to think, think where we are tomorrow, no, no / We don’t need to think, think where we are tomorrow / Let your head go.” The inclusion of spoken-word elements at the end of the track in addition to the singing of lyrics is a bit odd, but could serve as an interesting play on the ASMR trend.
“Therapy” is simply titled, but complex in nature as it highlights the questionable nature of the speaker’s relationship with someone (“Only you make me feel like a loser / Only you make me feel like I’m dumb / I’m counting down the days ’till I come back home / Counting down the days ’till I come back home to you). The short running time of the track combined with its light pop punk feel will make “Therapy” a likely hit.
“Death of Me” combines the short length of a pop punk powerhouse track with the catchy dance beats of an electro-pop hit. Livening things up in the last two songs is a bold move that isn’t new to New Politics, but the modern feel of the verses is a new touch. Stilted, modified vocals give the track a robotic touch that makes it easy to imagine “Death of Me” as a future favorite club remix for many.
“Wish You Well/…Can’t Explain” is the final song of An Invitation to an Alternate Reality.Its spoken-word beginning is aggressive and unapologetic, a bit of a bold choice for a final song, but one that disappoints me a bit. Although the “Don’t You (Forget About Me)”-style ending to the album gives off interesting 80’s vibes, it is not as strong of a place to leave off as tracks like “Bad for Me” or “Unstoppable” would likely leave listeners to expect.
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