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Mancunian-based duo Alive In Theory are constituted by vocalist Kirsty Mac and multi-instrumentalist Paul Ayre, and 'Abandon' is their debut, full-length platter of music. However, it seems their producer, Tony Draper, is something of an unofficial third band member, as he's credited with co-writing the album with Mac and Ayre, plus contributed bass and keys to the majority of the songs. And the three of them have succeeded in creating a work that sounds as fresh in places as it does retro in its late-80s/early-90s vibe, with its big melodies, hooks and emotionally-charged essence. Alt-pop is how Alive In Theory choose to describe themselves, yet, this is too simple a term to describe the music on 'Abandon'. Take the quartet of opening tracks, which vary as much in their pacing as in their stylistic affiliations. Throw some rock, powerfully emotive balladic elements, hints of theatrical flair, and a duality of melancholic atmospheres and optimistic flavours, and they certainly transcend their self-labelling.

However, after this most promising, eclectic starts, the album's pacing becomes a tad monotonous; as does its compositional variance, which suddenly feels delimited, and the punchy promise of earlier songs is severely abated. That's not to say the rest of the songs on the album are bad or average; rather, they generally fail to match the emotionally explosive affects of the first four. 'Lightning' engenders my interest again, but the likes of 'We Are All Alone', 'Crying Shame', 'Little Sister', and 'Jump First' make for a rather plodding second half of the album, that fails to deliver and capitalise on the first. As such, 'Abandon' can be a frustrating experience in how it builds up, then subsequently quashes expectations... and abandon is precisely my sentiment for listening to the closing few tracks... also in the sense that I feel abandoned by thwarted promise. However, they're still rich with emotions, and definitely growers... which I've come to respect and like in their own right. Although, in terms of how the album's paced, the song ordering could have been better, and Alive In Theory could've done with a couple more mid or up tempo numbers to break up the pacing monotony.

What's consistent throughout the album, though, is the quite wonderful vocal performance from Mac. Her tonally wide ranging voice, which is powerful however she pitches her delivery, conveys so much emotion through her richly resonant tones. It's undoubtedly the most prominent part of the album's core allure, even when it does begin to plod. And the production is great, too, so kudos to Tony "is he in the band, is he not in the band?" Draper. Still, as far as debut albums go, 'Abandon' is an impressive effort and well worth checking out.
Ultraviolet Records
Review by Mark Holmes
3rd March 2017
1) Alive in Theory
2) Bethany
3) Unconditional
4) The Other Woman
5) We Are All Alone
6) Lightning
7) Crying Shame
8) Enter the Real World
9) Little Sister
10) Jump First
11) The Other Side
"...a work that sounds as fresh in places as it does retro in its late-80s/early-90s vibe, with its big melodies, hooks and emotionally-charged essence."