Emotions, the debut album from Alaska! is at once a promising first offering and a bit of an annoyance. Many of the songs contained on Emotions are good, some even great, but it’s a difficult album to listen to all the way through. Not because it’s particularly bad — it isn’t — but rather because it just seems to go on too long and the singer’s voice grows a bit grating after a while.
Lyrically, the album is rather good. Songs like the album’s opener, “the western shore,” showcase both the lyrical and musical ability of this two man band (with lots of additional instrumental help from friends like Shon Sullivan). The opening number is instantly listenable and appealing, but it might have been a mistake to open with one of the better tracks on the album, especially on a record filled with plenty of merely decent songs. Still, the song illustrates the band’s potential to do great things.
“Sun Don’t Shine”, the third track on the album, shows the other side of Alaska! — and the side I honestly prefer. It’s a slower, more mellow, often acoustic song that allows us to see the potential Alaska! has should they stay a bit away from the epic-tending rock numbers scattered throughout the album. In fact, “The Western Shore” aside, all of the best tracks on Emotions are the acoustic (and sometimes orchestrated) songs. “Rust and Cyanide,” another of the band’s strongest tracks, features gorgeous harmonies and, possibly, a hint as to the band’s name (…in Alaska we have found our state…). Both “Lost in Gold” and “Resistance” follow similar paths musically, and are the other two pleasantly enjoyable songs on Emotions. However, the album’s closing number, “In My Time,” is a rather sizeable letdown, regressing back to the harder rocking numbers that ultimately weigh this album down and keep it from being something truly great.
Still, this is the group’s first album, and as such, Alaska! does what it needs to do to remain relevant: shows us a band with a good deal of talent and potential that, once they’ve learned a bit better their own strengths, is capable of producing something tremendous.