I’m not really familiar with Julianna Hatfield’s music, but came to Minor Alps through Matthew Caw’s band Nada Surf. It’s interesting to hear his voice in a different context, and one where he sounds quite at home. Their two voices combine beautifully on a set of songs co-written between them and sung together throughout.
To me the high point is ‘I don’t know what to do with my hands’, a nicely observed song about not being able to read another person. “I could sit here all night, our knees almost touching, but not ever quite”. I’m not sure who wrote that one, but the “tiny victories and bursts of speed” on ‘Far from the Roses’ is a classic Caws form of words.
There’s a greater use of programmed beats here, but the guitar sound is pretty much the same as Nada Surf. ‘Maxon’ stands out for its finger-picked acoustic and woodwind, and ‘Mixed feelings’ brings a welcome burst of energy and a little lyrical bite. Otherwise there’s not a whole lot of sonic variety, with Caws and Hatfield mostly sticking to electric guitars, drums and bass. For all their songwriting talent, it made me wonder if we'd have got something more exciting if Minor Alps was a full band rather than a duo.
Overall, Get There is a grown-up album from two musicians comfortable in their own skin and with nothing to prove. It makes for a competent but unassuming album, and perhaps an unambitious one too.