Alright Alright’s new album Crucible, released October 23, is an intimate experience with dreamy orchestration and relatable lyrics, something for which they are already known. But here, that intimacy is closer than before, like the genuine musings of a close friend.
The music places the listener directly in the room with China and Seth Kent via a creaking piano and China’s voice materializing into barely more than a whisper on “Don’t Worry.” The aural intimacy entrances with sparse instrumentation and drone-like tones in “Left but Not Arrived,” where a soulful saxophone compliments China’s voice with whipsery tones.
These dreamy sounds are contrasted by her husband Seth, who shares a grasp of campfire-like storytelling. He brings traditional folk to the album; both accessible and conversational. In “Trans Am,” Seth fantasizes about buying a sports car and parading it around, painting a vivid image with goofy lyrics describing the car as “[fitting] most of the rules of the HOA” and “[seeming] like it runs.”
The album’s stand-out is the second track, “Are We Gonna Make It.” It carries some of the same elements shared in Crucible’s other tunes, like heavy use of strings and a sparse sounding intro, but this one moves away from the organic to a polished production, giving it a dramatic, cinematic vibe, like something in a trailer for an indie movie. I know the band doesn’t want to do this on every track — the orchestration would have ruined “Trans Am” — but the effort really shines here. While most of the songs keep a consistent level of intensity, “Are We Gonna Make It” pushes for a bigger climax, and China reaches a power that isn’t heard on the rest of the album. This both hurts and helps them, as it’s a song most couples would die to write, but it also makes you wonder what this duo could have done had they brought that same intensity to Crucible on the whole.