With a skewed pop sensibility, pastichey zing, and a toy piano, “Alouette!” wrings more good humor out of its electronics-oriented language than one might have thought possible, given the general humorlessness of most electronics-based music. Glad that Thomas Samuel and Dabney Morris ignored the memo on that one. “Alouette!” skips with glitch and glee.
Good humor is an underrated quality in music. And I don’t mean songs that are funny per se; I mean songs in which the music itself makes you smile. “Alouette!” does this repeatedly, in an ongoing variety of ways. There’s the toy piano, sure, but there are also the sounds coaxed from synthesizers—rubbery, reverberant, yippy, squeaky—that make me wonder, as I have in the past, why electronic music isn’t in fact more smile-inducing more often. Beyond that, the arrangement itself is great fun, adhering sounds in a clattery, rhythmic gallop from start to finish. Even the vocals are part of the merry-making, from the twinkly spirit of Morris’s high-pitched tenor to the purposeful use of offbeat harmonies— check out the way the phrase “I am no hero” is sung, at: 1:18, or how the harmony vocal lags behind the melody, starting at the beginning of the second verse (0:58).
“Alouette!” was first heard late last year one the Nashville duo’s self-released EP , Hey There Little Nebula. It will get a wider release next month when the Portland, Ore.-based label Other Electricities presents the band’s full-length debut, The Ostrich or the Lark (title phrase found within this song; and “alouette,” so you know, means lark in French). MP3 via the band’s site.