Album Review: APRE – ‘Always in My Head’

Kess Leung

In a time of lockdowns, political turbulence, and monkish self-reflection, APRE deliver a provoking polemic on the nature of contemporary existence on the October mini-album, Always in My HeadKess Leung delves artfully beneath the urban drums and anxious, soaring vocals of the Kent alt-pop duos most mature sonic offering to date. 

Comprising of members Charlie Brown and Jules Konieczny, English alt-pop duo APRE are back again with a smashing short-length record titled Always in My Head. From touring with the likes of global alternative-rock favourites LANY, to fellow English singer-songwriter Will Heard, the pair’s following has skyrocketed since their initial meeting at the Ealing Chess Club, where the owner lent them the backroom to rehearse and record music.

Experimenting with heavier synths and electronic concepts, and inspired by the artists’ darkest moments after being thrown into a world of unrest and uncertainty, the newest record takes a livelier approach from its more sombre predecessors. Atop a backdrop of social and political chaos, the title track and record, Always in my Head, act as an escape from the negativity stifled inside. Life is far from typical at the moment, and this record is a breath of fresh air that signifies awaited freedom – the act of moving forward and finally allowing yourself to be who you truly want to be.

Written a few years back and polished up recently, the album’s first track, Bad Boy, is an honest reflection of the album’s wider purpose. A blunt emblematic affair dedicated to sweeping off all the negativity that gnaws at us, the electrifying track is the perfect opener to an album riddled with plight and unrest. After a smooth transition, the record saunters into I Know I’ll Find It. Coined a “song of pure hope” by the band themselves, the album’s second song adroitly embodies the record’s ambitious message of desire and aspiration.

“We need to think about ourselves tonight / We need to look past the fading light. When I know it gets hard, you and I / We need another chance to make things right,” the track chimes. With an impactful drumbeat and soulful harmonies layered beneath Charlie’s rasping voice, you’ll find yourself unconsciously swaying in your seat and singing along within a few listens. Having spent the majority of 2020 bombarded by an unceasing stream of negative news, this heady piece is a powerful reminder to try our best to remain sanguine during these difficult times. So, get up, let loose and sing along to this comforting song.

Zesty and synth-tinged with a retro-fied charm, the instrumentals are reminiscent of a 90’s disco-esque film score

Whilst the duo are joyously known for their self-produced music, one gem on Always in My Head stands out as an outlier. The APRE classic, Without Your Love, has been a staple of every fan’s playlist. Initially released as a Gran’s Front Room Version back in 2018, the recent professional studio version incorporates a playful and exhilarating twist. Swapping out the kicked-back, electronic instrumental solo that drove the previous version for a rich set of boom-bap beats, the studio take has a thrilling edge.

The fan anthem opens with the nostalgic ditty of Every Breath you Take that might be familiar to listeners of critically acclaimed rock band – The Police. Navigating through the complex web of emotions, the duo narrate a tale of being lost without the love of a romantic interest: “Time was never on our side / runnin’ around with no place to hide / Us is what it could have been, I’ve seen your face but now I’ve seen it on the screen.”

A timely ode to their musical versatility however, are the scintillating mid-tracks Hello and Live it Up. Bringing a lighter and cheekier vibe to the record, the former features Konieczny’s twinkling backing vocals chanting “Hello” on a continuous loop. Zesty and synth-tinged with a retro-fied charm, the instrumentals are reminiscent of a 90’s disco-esque film score. Similarly, while we might be approaching winter, the colourful, bass-steered Live it Up is sure to make you feel like it’s summer all over again.

As if you are spinning round-and-round, the upbeat ditty will have you grinning from ear to ear. The catch here however, is that while the track leans into a refreshing and bright sound, the lyrics are a solemn nod to mental health struggles: “Hold it, on and on, but you can’t work it out / Shake it up and up, until it makes a sound / Wake me up and say that you’re all better now, I’ve heard it all before.” Embodying APRE’s trademark flair for melding darker lyrical themes with breezy, synth-driven melodies, the track is amongst the mini-album’s most intelligent. 

With washes of nostalgia and soft, lulling vocals, the listening experience is both invigorating and bittersweet

Reminiscent of the 1980’s, the acoustic strings and a breezy beat accompaniments of final tracks, Is That Really What You Live for? and Grab my Hand, culminate the record in enchanting fashion. With washes of nostalgia and soft, lulling vocals, they make for a listening experience that is both invigorating and bittersweet.

Striking a flawless balance between anguish and hope, APRE’s Always in My Head is a remarkable sonic step-up from the band’s previous releases. Deeply poignant and expressive, it showcases gloriously a more mature side to the plucky Kent pair, and is thoroughly worth checking out now on iTunes and Spotify.

Kess Leung

Featured image courtesy of APRE via Chuff Media.  No changes made to this image.

Article image courtesy of APRE via Facebook. Image license found hereNo changes were made to this images.

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