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Various Artists Almost Alice Review

Album. Released 2010.  

BBC Review

A great idea some distance short of being properly realised.

Mike Diver 2010

Disney’s Tim Burton-directed Alice in Wonderland is certain to dominate the box office when it opens. This compilation features a similar level of marquee names – Avril Lavinge, The Cure’s Robert Smith, chart successes 3OH!3 and Owl City; the film stars Johnny Depp, Christopher Lee and Helena Bonham Carter – but lacks imagination enough to make it memorable on its own merits.

Like many various-artists soundtrack sets, this features songs inspired by the motion picture – or, rather, the stories upon which Burton’s movie is based. As such one doesn’t need to hear them beside on-screen imagery for any critical context; they can be treated as separate entities, with no narrative to bind them. So it’s disappointing that so many songs bleed into those either side of them, artists unable to leave a significant, singular mark.

All Time Low, Metro Station and Tokio Hotel are entirely interchangeable, their offerings blandly boisterous, hideously hackneyed rock presumably written with the youngest of ears in mind. The Disney association isn’t lost on those behind this release, as the assembled assortment of bands caters almost exclusively for kids with only the top 40 as a pop barometer. Follow Me Down, which finds 3OH!3 again joined by a female vocalist, Neon Hitch stepping into Katy Perry’s shoes, features a chorus so mindless – “Follow me, follow me, fa-la-la-la-la…” – that it’s practically a playground chant, designed to fit some variation on hopscotch or a hand-clap game practised by pigtailed pupils.

Very Good Advice featured in the 1951 animated Alice movie – also a Disney production – and here its theatricality is heightened by the inane pop fodder preceding it. The song finds Smith on good form, sounding every inch the spooky old uncle to Lavigne’s spirited, if a mite screechy, lead character. Indeed, if the line-up here was presented as a film cast, the Canadian would have top billing: her Alice (Underground) plays as the credits roll, and is this album’s lead single.

Mark Hoppus and Pete Wentz – of Blink-182 and Fall Out Boy respectively – contribute a surprisingly understated number, In Transit, which benefits from sensible restraint of bluster and bombast. It sounds like half a song one of the two already had, finished when the Alice team called, but it’s still a highlight here.

Expectedly inconsistent, Almost Alice is a great idea some distance short of being properly realised. Look to the latest Twilight disc as a recommended alternative.

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