(Banquet Records, out now on CD, signed CD, LP and signed LP)

South London duo Alpines have released their second full-length album Another River, refining the synth-pop atmospherica which defined their earlier work into a more focused, crisper sound. The 10-strong LP is characterised by electronically-manipulated backbeats, building melodies and the sheer strength of vocalist Catherine Pockson.

While their first two EPs and debut full-length album contained tracks which threatened to overwhelm in their sprawling ambition, here the band’s aesthetic has been pulled back into a chicer, sleeker groove. Pockson’s indisputably excellent voice is the focal point behind which plenty of electronic jiggery-pokery pulls any number of shapes, but throughout it all the songs have a cohesion lacking on earlier efforts.

For the most part, this is a good thing. In particular, the tracks Heaven, Take Me to the River and Completely benefit from the distorted but undistracted drive of the backbeat, which rumbles onto a crescendo of a climax, while the lyrics and the power with which they are delivered make sure these stand-outs instantly get stuck in your head.

Elsewhere, the album falls prey to a degree of sameyness, with certain songs resembling something between an edgy Emelí Sande and a safe SBTRKT. It’s this hesitation to climb completely out of the box and stay there which makes Another River a good album, but not an outstanding one. Regardless, it’s a definite step-up in quality on previous records and well worth 38 minutes of your time. More to come from this pair.