It was the jovial syrupy innocence of high-pitched strings paired with upbeat percussion that landed Vance Joy's "Riptide" the responsibility of sound-tracking every beach wedding on Earth since mid-2013, and the instrumental trend has been spotted percolating across genres to give even artists with a significantly more electronic lean (see Broken Back) their signature happy-go-lucky lightheartedness.
This particular musical motif is, however, by far at its finest when it stands firm in the acoustic grounding which bred it. Such is the draw of the grin-inducing, chipper pop folk sounds of avid beatboxer, former busker, multi-instrumentalist and New Zealand native Graeme James. His signature (vaguely Celtic) foot-stomping, fiddle plucking and crying violins served to produce a series of well-received pop covers early during his career, but the positively masterful array of James' instrumental expertise coupled with knee-weakening velveteen vocals meant that folked-up MGMT covers were never destined to be the full extent of his portfolio.
"Alive" jauntily represents the livelier side of James' first original album, News From Nowhere, and is well balanced by a number of more heavy-hearted somber tracks, creating a diverse emotional landscape on the record for James to wring out every last bit of his ample instrumental, vocal and songwriting talent on his terms, and not those imposed by the reinvention of a mid-2000s pop track.