Alpaca Sports remain one of my very favourite Pop groups of recent years and their new ‘When You Need Me The Most’ EP does little to change that fact. There is even a 10” vinyl version, which is to say my very favourite format. Songs like the string-laden stroll along the beach ‘When I Hold You’ or the bubbling, brilliantine title cut sparkle with fairy dust and are as special as anything oldsters like me might cherish on a single with cherries on the label. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it forevermore: Alpaca Sports are April Showers for these times and there are few things that can be said that carry more import.
There’s a ‘but’ lingering here, however, for lead off track ‘Just Like Them’ does manage to frustrate almost as much as it delights me. Musically it is a delicious truffle of a track, all hip-slapping handclaps, bouncing baby-blue drums and crystalline guitar lines. It pauses in just the right ways, flutters its eyelashes and spins off into spirals of bubblegum delirium. Lyrically, however, it leaves me with a furrowed brow. For as much as I attempt to convince myself that in theory it is a song about the abstract nature of age, change and disappointment, I can’t escape those very real lines about shiny hair and fancy cars and can’t help but think… "yeah, you know what, when you’re young the idea of cherishing such things can seem to be so very repellent and such a clear signifier of All That’s Wrong With The World. But really? Really?"
I’ve fallen into the trap myself. Of course I have. If I were to read my fanzines from my younger years I would no doubt wince at my vitriolic diatribes against peers who end up talking about mortgages and cars and whatnot. And whilst talking about those things might still seem terminally dull some thirty years later, I’m no longer foolish enough to think that this makes one The Enemy. Or means that they/I have Sold Out. It just means they/I grew up. And that’s fine. That’s to be expected. Even, perhaps, applauded. There is so much we never know about people, after all.
Besides which, talking about records can be every bit as terminally dull. As I am no doubt proving here.
I’m also acutely aware of the fact that, because Alpaca Sports are still delectably young, it would be a crushing disappointment if they were not to feel like this. And there’s the rub. Pop isn’t meant to be reasonable. Pop isn't meant to be multi-dimensional and immeasurably nuanced. It is meant to drill down to the lowest common denominator and express a simple idea in a straightforward way.
Which just goes to prove how right and wrong both I, and Alpaca Sports can be in the same thrilled and precious breath. It’s what makes Alpaca Sports at least so special. It’s why they remain one of my very favourite Pop groups of recent years. Which is where, I believe, we came in.