September 19, 2022 Alphaville – Eternally Yours (Album Review)
Formed in 1982, in Münster, West Germany, Alphaville were at the forefront of New Wave music during the genre’s mid-’80s phase. Sustained major success during that time, they waved their flag, dominating Pop-oriented radio stations and television’s MTV with songs such as “Forever Young,” “Big in Japan,” as well as “Sounds like a Melody.”
Still going strong, the German group- currently led by founder Marian Gold (lead vocals), with members David Goodes (guitar), Jakob Kiersch (drums), Carsten Brocker (keyboards, drum programming), and Alexandra Merl (bass) -is now set to release an expansive record, titled Eternally Yours.
Made in collaboration with film and television arrangers Max Knoth and Christian Lohr and the German Film Orchestra Babelsberg, the symphonic double album consists of orchestral versions of some of Alphaville’s classic songs. Due out on September 23, 2022 via BFD (Bob Frank Distribution)/The Orchard, a massive twenty-three tracks in total, Eternally Yours opens aptly with the cinematic, hypnotic loop of “Dream Machine.” This is then followed by an eerie, proper Baroque buildup of “Summer in Berlin” and a more ornate arrangement of the 1984 hit “Big in Japan.” The originally upbeat “Dance with Me” is then given a slow, dramatic treatment, transforming it into a piano-led and string-laden ballad–uplifting, spine-tingling. After the playful “Summer Rain,” taken from 1989’s The Breathtaking Blue, Alphaville then launches into a theatrical delivery of 1994’s “Apollo,” in which Gold sings Opera-style.
Another one from the band’s equally ambitious, eight-disc compilation Dreamscapes of 1999, “Elegy” is what its title says it is–a lament for someone’s passing in the night, to some unknown lands. Following next is another one from 1986’s Afternoons in Utopia–a graceful horn-adorned rendition of “Lassie Come Home.” And then there is the heartrending and tear-pulling music box beauty, “Moongirl”–delicate, poignant, little starry-eyed.
Unearthed both from the debut album, the new form of the B-side “Welcome to the Sun” is a slight change of ambience–waltzy and majestic; whereas “A Victory of Love” is soaring like swans and cascading as if waterfalls. “Sounds like a Melody” then booms with its timpani and weaves its way to the ears and into the heart of the listener, with its strings and synth; in here, Gold comes across as a deadringer of a-ha’s Morten Harket.
Covering tracks from all but one of their past albums, Gold and the rest of Alphaville then revisit “Around the Universe,” from 2017’s Strange Attractor. They then unleash the lush and big-sounding title-track–the lone new song in this collection, after which they deliver their take on Shirley Bassey’s ubiquitous “Diamonds Are Forever.” Then after the bittersweet “Flame,” from 1997’s Salvation, Alphaville then wraps up Disc One of Eternally Yours with the mighty “Forever Young.” An indulgence especially for the diehard and the forever youthful and romantic, Disc Two offers plenty more. Composed of various mixes of the same classic songs, it also includes the celebratory “Pandora’s Lullaby” – another one from Salvation.
With Eternally Yours Alphaville has elevated its music onto a higher plane of artistic presentation. This also begs to acknowledge similar endeavors undertaken relatively recently by fellow New Wave / Synthpop pioneers such as Ian McCulloch of Echo & the Bunnymen (2013’s Holy Ghosts), Visage (2014’s Orchestral), Midge Ure of Ultravox (2017’s Orchestrated), and A Flock of Seagulls (2018’s Ascension and 2021’s String Theory). Ultimately, Eternally Yours places Alphaville rightfully in this rare category of Classical-inspired artists. That is why Cryptic Rock gives it 4 out of 5 stars.