"I like digging holes and hiding things inside them, When I grow old I hope I won't forget to find them." - Alice Merton
By Eish Sumra
If there was a song to represent this Culture Guide, it would be Alice Merton’s “Roots.” With a pounding, almost military drum and a “Seven Nation Army” bass line, she asserts: “Cause, I’ve got memories and travel like gypsies in the night.” Her hit single is one part Florence & The Machine another Lykke Li, but her style is more approachable and traditional than these indie darlings.
Her debut is fueled by her vagabond status. Born in Germany to a German mother and Irish father, she moved to the U.S., Canada, England and back to Germany, living in over 10 cities. Despite her connection to her British and German sides, she still feels a lack of definable identity. Yet, it is exactly that which makes her music and her personality so intriguing. Her debut record, which has yet to be released, is said to be a collage of her nomadic existence. She spent her upbringing not being tied to material things and focusing more on experiences. Her musicality reflects this freedom of thought while also retaining the emotion at having to be untethered to one place.
One particular lyric of Merton’s which sticks in the mind is: “I build a home and wait for someone to tear it down.” It is said quite emotionless and matter-of-fact. She brings a heavy ‘fuck-it’ element to her music, injecting early 2000s guitar rifts with slinky, funky bass lines. Her vocals can swerve from smooth to shouty easily and this makes her music more punk-pop than alternative.
Her other singles include the angsty Marina and The Diamonds styled bop “Lash Out”. She injects doses of attitude and sass to her songs, most of which are created through frustration and disappointment.
Her brand of music is neither pop, nor indie, nor is it indie-pop. She takes from many genres and many styles, creating a darker a tone that doesn’t reach the malaise of Lana or Lorde, but doesn’t have the levity of Ellie Goulding or Katy Perry. One senses that in her search for a national identity, she’s also exploring her musical one. Where she ends up, no one knows.