Four lads from South Yorkshire, UK who gleefully share their moniker with an infamous old school South American gang, Alvarez Kings summon pop power through timeless analog synth and guitar magic.
The quartet—brothers Simon [vocals, guitar] and Paul Thompson [bass, keys, backup vocals], Sean Parkin [guitar], and Richard Walker [drums, samples, pads]—has quietly built up an international buzz since their 2012 formation in a place that, as they like to say, “resembles The Shire in The Lord of The Rings.” BBC Radio proclaimed the group’s song “No Resolve” the “Single of the Year,” while they impressed audiences at Isle of Wight and O2 Wireless Festival in addition to show-stopping stints on the Vans Warped Tour in 2013 and 2015 and support slots on tours with Melanie Martinez, PVRIS, and Echosmith. Their 2015 EP, Fear To Feel, expanded their foothold in the U.S. Spotify featured the title track on coveted playlists such as The Indie Mix and Ultimate Indie Playlist, notching 40K streams in less than 12 hours and eventually amassing over 700K and counting. Meanwhile, they drew acclaim from Billboard, Huffington Post, and more.
However, everything paved the way for their 2017 full-length debut, Somewhere Between [Sire/Warner Bros. Records].
“In terms of influences, there’s all kinds of stuff in there,” says Sean. “We’re all rock guys, but we also love dance music. There are orchestral elements and this big synth sound we’re obsessed with. It’s everything that we are.”
“Because it’s our first album as a band, it’s like the soundtrack of the past God knows how many years,” smiles Simon.
In order to record that “soundtrack,” the boys traveled halfway across the world to Los Angeles in the Spring of 2016. Holing up in Burbank’s famed Ocean Studios, they cut the album in just three weeks with producer Carlos de la Garza [Paramore]. Hollywood definitely left its mark on the music.
“There’s a sort of eighties nostalgia to the album because we were around Sunset Boulevard, and we got to experience that dramatic L.A. sunset every day,” Sean goes on. “We were listening to Tears For Fears pretty much on repeat. It was all really Miami Vice-style,” he chuckles.
“It was great working with Carlos,” adds Richard. “He instilled a hell of a lot of knowledge in terms of production values. He really helped us get to the heart of the song. He was a big influence.”
Somewhere Between’s introductory focus track “Cold Conscience” combines shimmering keys and an arena-ready beat with an impassioned refrain punctuated by a sizzling guitar lead.
“I got this idea from a friend who cheated on his then-girlfriend,” explains Simon. “The day after, it’s like you’re asking, ‘Is your conscience cold?’ I ran with that metaphor and built a story around it.”
Elsewhere on the album, the boys tap into raw emotion on the hypnotic and heartfelt “The Other Side.” Sean goes on, “That was a hugely poignant song for us, lyrically speaking. It’s written about grievance and the passing of a very close friend and how you deal with that as a person. On Warped Tour, we met so many fans who said the song touched them, and it’s a special one for us.”
Whether it’s the percussive shuffle of “SLEEPWALKING” or ethereal soundscape of “Picking Up The Pieces,” the album explores relationships, separation, and love.
Paul continues, “If you listen to the lyrics closely, many of the songs are about the difficulties and hardships of being away from the one you love. It’s something of a unifying theme from experience.”
In the end, Alvarez Kings create a connection with Somewhere Between.
“We just want people to connect and open up emotionally to the music,” Sean concludes. “We try to write melodies that draw listeners in, riffs that are imaginative, and honest lyrical content. It’s all about making something you can relate to.”