Rochester based multi-instrumentalist Alex Northrup and his band The Backup released their six-song album in March titled Long Story Short. The band is made up of Alex Northrup (keyboard, vocals), Andrew Carter (bass guitar, backup vocals), and Jake Walsh (drums, backup vocals). The trio has a sound that ranges from really small to huge, making use of each member’s prowess on their instrument and their abilities to hold a strong harmony. One thing that pops out in any of Northrup’s recordings is Alex’s ability to take a song out of the pocket with his strong keyboard performances. Evinced by the six tracks on this release, Alex Northrup and The Backup are beginning to carve out a sound all their own.
The opening track “Put on the Break-Up” ultimately sets the overall pace for the album. The sweet vocal melody is hashed out by wonderfully performed harmonies. Nothing here is too pristine; that is to say, the vibe is similar to the old Weezer Pinkerton days. The listener will be able to tell that the process of recording that the band took was organic, leaving the bulk of the work to the musicians to make the songs sound good.
“Sinning on a Saturday” offers a better look at how dynamic the band can be in their orchestration. The bass takes on a life of its own and the texture of the keyboard flexes a bit more as well, as Alex navigates his chord progression to make meaningful and interesting solos. The mood shift that takes place between the verse and chorus is subtle, but noticeable enough to invoke the feelings reflected in the lyrics.
One thing that should be taken note of is how Alex writes his lyrics. He talks casually, and even comically at times, about serious issues while never sacrificing the weight of the song’s topic. “Girl of My Dreams” is one such song. The ballad is a nice throwback to older ballads from the 50’s and the band does the style justice. While most of the songs are written by Northrup himself, he does collaborate with other members of the Rochester music scene. Specifically in “There We Go Again”, where some new creative elements and bass lines are added in by Dave Drago.
The album’s cap is an ethereal instrumental that comes out of almost nowhere to great effect. Each song flows into the next really well, and the entire album felt like it should end much like it does in “Blinded by Delight.” The band’s harmonies are sitting tight in the background behind a beautiful soundscape of textures. Overall, the album’s flow offers a whole new dimension worth analysis of its own. Definitely take a chance on this release, and be sure to find Alex Northrup and The Backup on Spotify, Bandcamp and social media!
Key Tracks: Sinning on Sunday, Put on the Break-Up, Girl of My Dreams