Alaska in Winter

Suicide Prevention Hotline

by Matthew Fiander

12 March 2012

cover art

Alaska in Winter

Suicide Prevention Hotline

US: 13 Jun 2011
UK: 13 Jun 2011

Alaska in Winter, the musical project of Brandon Bethancourt, has delivered a decidedly sad set in Suicide Prevention Hotline. It’s a dark sheen these songs ride on, but under the overcast hum of these electro-pop numbers, there is an honest humanity. It usually comes out in the clean piano that cuts through all the formless waves of sound here. Unfortunately, all the layers here feel overdone—often anonymous in their grey electronic haze—and obscure Bethancourt’s presence in his own music. Despite pining for love as a road to healing and wondering about faith in curious ways, it’s difficult to sift through the melodramatic strings on “Forever Twenty-One Gun Salute” or “‘Divine Miscalculations”, or distinguish “Demons” from any shadowy late-‘80s electro-pop. The finest moment on the album comes in the drawn out solo piano that plays at the end of epic closer “Downward Spiral Dial Tone”. It’s solitary and haunting, laid bare and beautiful, and shows exactly what all these thick, oft-unnecessary layers of sound hide all over the EP. Suicide Prevention Hotline may have something to say under it all, but it’s a collection obscured by its own sound, worn down by the weight of its too-smooth textures.

Suicide Prevention Hotline



We all know how critical it is to keep independent voices alive and strong on the Internet. Please consider a donation to support our work as independent cultural critics and historians. Your donation will help PopMatters stay viable through these changing and challenging times. Thanks everyone.

//Mixed media

Beyoncé and When Music Writing Becomes Activism

// Sound Affects

"The overall response to Beyoncé's "Formation" has been startlingly positive, but mostly for reasons attached to political agendas. It's time to investigate this trend.

READ the article