Every once in a while a recording comes along that causes your musical journey through life to take an unexpected turn. For the most part, most of us travel a straight road and pick up musical hitchhikers along the way. Some music that we encounter causes the road to bend or has us turning a corner. This Arrival release, the debut from Aliens Don’t Ring Doorbells, almost made me drive off my musical road before it set me on a path through a pop paradise.
I just said that this record put me in a pop paradise. In all honesty, that’s a branding that’s unfair to this band of brilliant songwriters. Aliens Don’t Ring Doorbells does so much more than just traditional pop. These songs have elements from genres like jazz, blues, rock, and even rap. You might think that’s too much variety for any one record, but when you have complete professionals doing the songwriting, they create a cohesive bond through all of it.
The album starts with “Consummation,” which is quite different from anything else on the record. It’s an in-your-face rocker with some alternative rock leanings, but yet it has a solid melody and a hook. This is the band stepping way out of “their box,” but yet it works. “Slipping Away” is more of a straight-forward, high energy radio rocker with more great melody and hook, and a wicked bass lick. “Blind To See” has a dancing, jangling guitar tempo similar to something from Daft Punk, and “Daddy Blues” is a sly and slow blues steamer with a growling saxophone and a sexy female rap bit. But for me, the real magic of this record happens when the band ices down everything and deeply embraces their free spirited, hook-laden pop side. “It’s Your Night” is a chilled out New Wave-ish pop song with a hook big enough to land an orca. “Daylight” has a Mr. Mister-type of vibe with another hook that will torture you for weeks. “The Heart Is In Her Eyes” has an almost Elton John-like swagger, complete with a keyboard/horn composition that will have you dancing and singing everywhere you go. My two favorite tracks, “Missing Pieces” and “Story,” sit back-to-back near the end of the record, and I hate to think what life would be like without them. The Steely Dan-like jazz feel of “Missing Pieces” blends perfectly with the huge sing-along chorus, and “Story” is in a whole other realm. “Story” is one of those songs that puts you on a mountain top with your arms stretched wide. This is a meaningful song that takes flight in its choruses, and it welcomes you to lounge upon its wings. “Story” and so many more of these songs will jump into your heart and nestle themselves there for a lifetime.
This is one of the most well-crafted records I have heard in many years. At its core, I see Aliens Don’t Ring Doorbells as a traditional pop band. Infectious melodies and hooks with beautiful vocal phrasing are at the root of all these songs. The band chooses to embellish with other various elements on some songs, but they do it with superb reverence to the core structures of each song. Arrival is one of those records where pushing stop doesn’t mean the music necessarily ends.
Don’t plan on sleeping too much after listening to this one. These songs will continue playing long after your speakers go silent.
King of the Aliens:
A Conversation with Adam King
Aliens Don’t Ring Doorbells singer Adam King talks with Dr. Music about the band’s debut album, Arrival, and the story behind the band’s unique name. Adam also talks about the production by Jeff Kanan, his background in entertainment, and the construction of the brilliant songs on Arrival.