Anyone who has recently been enjoying the hits of vocoder-infused indie-pop act Owl City should be suitable impressed by "A Little Bit of Epic", the debut EP from Hull’s own I Alexander. However, if you are of the opinion that the vocoder is responsible for too many pop hit disasters to recall and, therefore, should have been buried in some kind of 1970s time capsule, you may wish to steer clear. This 7-track EP from one-man musician/songwriter/producer Alex Larkman - aka I Alexander is a mixture of pop, rock and dance that may come as a pleasant or unwanted surprise depending on your appreciation for electronic alternative music. Check out his MySpace page and you will find that Alex’s many influences include Michael Jackson, Justin Timberlake, Paramore and Lostprophets. Inspiration drawn from all of these artists can be found on this short CD, but is this such a wise concoction?
Opening track ‘You, This Does Transcend’ is a dancey, keyboard-driven pop number, featuring some particularly squeaky vocoded vocals from Alex. To be fair, it could easily compete with most of the throwaway, chart-friendly songs that can be found in the Top 10 in any one week, which speaks volumes for his skills as a producer. In terms of his songwriting ability, however, this may not be enough to prove himself as a credible artist.
Elsewhere on the EP, Alex repeatedly shows off his talents as a musician, shifting between electronic music, acoustic guitars and dance-style beats. On a couple of tracks, there is even some heavyish electric guitar to be heard in the background, which occasionally makes the music reminiscent of pop-metal acts such as Evanessence and the aforementioned Lost Prophets.
For a debut EP, which is completely self-recorded, "A Little Bit of Epic" is a pretty decent effort in terms of its production quality. The main problem though is that it doesn’t really know what it wants to be. Is it a pop or a rock record? Larkman has obviously tried to take influences from both genres, but the combination isn’t seamless enough to make it entirely convincing. So, is this a little bit of epic or merely an epic fail? Probably neither. Alex has definitely proved himself as a capable recording artist but, next time, he just needs to adjust the balance in order to compete with the big boys.