On new album ‘You,’ Tampa electro duo Alien House has a little fun with a more free-form approach

Out on May 5, the album marries the audio artifacts of the early aughts with the resurgence of '90s house music,

click to enlarge After writing an album in quarantine, Alien House (Justin Myers, L,  and Anthony Tarallo) was desperate to get back in the same room. - Photo c/o Alien House
Photo c/o Alien House
After writing an album in quarantine, Alien House (Justin Myers, L, and Anthony Tarallo) was desperate to get back in the same room.
Robert Frost has said: “no surprise for the writer, no surprise for the reader,” and Alien House is full of surprises. Its new album, You, is a playful romp in a synthetic soundscape featuring bright and shiny bops woven in throughout each song, plus nostalgic snips that call back to the early aughts in tracks like “LYVM,” (Love You Very Much) which opens with a dial tone, a girl’s voice, and a, “Hey, what’s up?”

Band members Justin Myers and Anthony Tarallo released Alien House’s first full-length concept album, Flora, in early 2022 after writing it, separated by their insular bubbles, in the beginning of quarantine/the pandemic. It was the first time the duo—which released its debut self-titled record in 2011—had collaborated remotely, sending songs back and forth online, and what came out of it was a metaphor: of, perhaps, a place they wish they could have gone during that time. Flora was (and is) a fictional, spirit-filled island where the artists and listeners alike could journey through the misty tropics of each place and each song, which were all intentionally composed with the same BPM and time length.

But after Flora (and after the worst of the pandemic) the duo wanted to get back into the same room and out of the confines of structure to have a little fun with a more free-form approach to their songwriting, which they achieved with You.
The 12-song collection sits tightly at about 40 minutes and knits together a collage of sounds: thrift store cassette tape samples, distorted vocals, breaks that make you bop, and a percussive energy that’s impossible not to move to. A favorite track, “Move Your,” features Tarallo vibing off ethereal strings and a subtle beat as he whisper-sings: “Make the bed / brush my teeth / wash my hands / clean my feet / all these different things to eat / coffee is my favorite drink.” Synthy notes peak up, bringing a brightness that complements the playful lyrics before the static of a radio station takes us elsewhere, to echos of shouts, to a clear percussion, and to an ultimate, staggered coming down.

You, out on May 5, marries the audio artifacts of the early aughts with the resurgence of '90s house music, a trend that can be seen, too, in Beyoncé’s Renaissance. And it seems, “post”-pandemic, many people are craving this exactly: fun, dancey, non-serious tracks.
“Approaching the project as a mixtape allowed us to take it less seriously and allowed different genres and media to come through,” Tarallo says. “It helped us widen the scope a bit.”

Influenced early on (circa 2004/2005) by skate videos, Saddle Creek (read: The Faint, Bright Eyes, Desaparecidos), The Sex Pistols, and Animal Collective among others, the duo became an amalgamation of everything that made them feel something raw and real.

“Anthony and I both, from a young age, were never influenced by just one thing,” Myers says. “It was skateboarding, it was art, it was the age of the internet—we could access so much, and we did, becoming a collection of all these things.”

And like a collection or a collage, the two set out to invite in as many hands as they could to work on all aspects of You. Graphic designer, Stephen Lurvey, has worked up the album art; JJ Revell, who mixes front of house for Underoath signed on to mix, and Reily Ilo, a Tampa-based hip-hop/rap artist, offered up a fresh single, “Fond of Them,” for the record.

The inclusion of vocals as accents, the airy electronics, and the dug-up-from-the-decades cassette clips are just some of the elements that make You an album to start up and get down to. In its entirety, you almost don’t see the scraps glued together. And in it, you see that Alien House isn’t trying to be anyone else.
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