Multi-city virtual band crafts mellow indie pop sunshine from behind closed windows.
If Alphabet Supine were a fruit juice, it would be orange. It’s perfect for a light spring morning with eggs sunny-side up, hitting with a delicate but tangy dose of sweetness and vitamin C. It’s perky and soothing, yet the citric qualities within are too tart to bring to the dessert table.
Alphabet Supine is fresh-squeezed melancholy made delicious with a pop-sugar blend of breezy guitars, syrupy bass, crispy drums, and easy-going vocals garnished with a sprig of peripheral auto-tune.
Though its music recalls a Floridan export, Alphabet Supine is a Midwestern project that currently spans from Oklahoma City to Guthrie to St. Louis. The band’s four members–Dane Heins, Derek Moore, Josh Praizner, and Tyler Haynes–collaborate virtually from their respective bedrooms and, despite having a rock band lineup, they have never played together in person, even before 2020’s COVID pandemic made it mandatory.
The project’s chemistry transcends its logistics, though, and that’s no fluke. Alphabet Supine’s founding members Heins and Praizner used to play for years together in The Samurai Conquistadors, a criminally underappreciated alt-fusion band that used to jam around Norman. Alphabet Supine is a decidedly different feel–it’s tighter, less extravagant, more polished–but it shares a similar hypnosis in groove.
The new band’s latest is its second lead single from a forthcoming debut EP. The song is called “Wits End”, and you can give it a spin now in this Make Oklahoma Weirder track premiere at the player below.
Early strokes of drum kit rhythms and vinyl crackles set the tone for “Wits End” with iconic fingerprints of lo-fi hip-hop study playlists. From that home plate of neo-nostalgic comfort, however, it shuffles forward into an indie-pop progression of soft visions, opening up in wave after wave of electric guitar drapery and fluttering stereophonic vocal harmonies as the path journeys forward in moderate tempo.
That the music moves with such motivation at first may seem to conflict with the song’s lyrics, which are helpless by comparison. “Wits End” is about seeing a loved one go through a rough patch in real time and being unable to fix the situation or speed past it. According to the song title, this is an end, not a beginning.
However, there are glimmers of belief in “Wits End” that come through in lines like “First things first / Tear it to the ground,” which indicate that there is a mental or circumstantial block preventing all parties from seeing a way out of the present rut. Where the song lyrically hits a wall over and over again (“Get it? / I don’t”), the tone of the music pushes forward, working through it to find a way.
“Wits End” follows “I’ll Get to It”, the band’s first lead single from earlier in April. That song has a similar take on procrastination, so a theme is prevalent here. Alphabet Supine is wrestling with psychological trappings, yet it’s pulling incredible music out of it. In both songs, the feel-good instrumentation carries the narratives into a realm of reassurance. The music is emblematic of the persistence of hope, and in a meta twist, the therapeutic solution to the problems the band portrays may be the band itself.