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(Nettwerk America)

Stargazing is the third full-length release from the duo of Alpha since their inception in 1997 and it continues down the path that they've carved out for themselves to date (in addition to full-lengths, they've dropped a couple EPs and singles). As in the past the group put the entire thing to gether in their own home studio and it mixes a touch of french pop with a nice dose of trip hop and even some orchestral swirls for another album that goes down easy and is perfectly suited for late-night listening.

Also this time out, the duo of Andy Jenks and Corin Dingley have enlisted even more guest vocalists, making the album a little bit more adventurous, but ultimately a little more hit-or-miss as well. After a couple of innocuous opening tracks, the album really gets going with the instrumental of "The Things You Might" as string stabs streak in over a buzzy beat and filtered vocal snippets drift in and out. "Lipstick From The Asylum" might very well be the best track on the entire release, featuring the the warm croon of Martin Bernard over backing instrumentation that would make any fan of Morr Music shiver with joy.

On the other side of things, the group veers way too far into schlock territory with tracks like the overly sappy R&B-infused "Elvis" (featuring Kelvin Swaybe on vocals) and the also-overwrought "Saturn In Rain" (with Bernard again on vocals, this time milking things for all they're worth). Even the bonus-track (one of three included on the domestic release) of "Horseshit" feels a bit too goofy next to the more subtle surroundings. That said, though, most of the tracks on "Stargazing" shuffle along nicely, even if they dip a bit close to adult contemporary in places. Put this on next time you break out the martini shaker.

Rating: 6.5