Alphaville Salvation

Many people will have forgotten about Alphaville by now, but these German pioneers of synth-pop are still making music, and 2000 finds them in fine form with their fifth album, Salvation. Originally released in Europe in 1997, the album finally gets a proper North American distribution via Metropolis, who have a knack for finding niche synth bands who still have a strong fan base and still make meaningful music. It's been a long time since their 1984 debut, Forever Young, which was the last album to produce real "hits" for the band. Subsequent albums were critical and fan favourites, but never achieved the level of appeal earned by their first record. Their previous effort, 1994's Prostitute, was a dark theatrical album that proved too abstract to achieve any notoriety. Salvation allows Alphaville to demonstrate their strengths: intelligent pop arrangements with a full sound rooted in electronics and augmented by lavish production and string arrangements - handled in part by Anne Dudley, the former Art Of Noise member who has scored films and worked with a wide range of bands like Pulp and Killing Joke. Yes, core band members Marian Gold, Bernhard Lloyd and Rick Echolette are getting on in their years, but they demonstrate a keen awareness of current music trends - especially on the dance floor. The influence of European club and trance music is obvious and works perfectly well with their epic pop anthems. Like 1986's Afternoons In Utopia, Alphaville have made a strong album that combines thoughtful (albeit lofty) lyrics, technology, rich instrumentation and a beat you can dance to into a proper and worthwhile pop record. (Metropolis)