(Artwork care of Karen Ramsay (www.karenramsay.com), profile photo care of brianlackeyphotography.com)

Friday, April 1, 2011

CD review - UNKLE, Only the Lonely (2011)

UNKLE has roots in trip-hop, but now the group is effectively a name for James Lavelle and his partners to produce collaborations with various alternative artists. Only the Lonely is a brief but exciting 5 song EP, featuring Nick Cave, Leila Moss (the Duke Spirit), Gavin Clark (Clayhill), and Rachel Fannen (Sleepy Sun). The April 4 release coordinates with an extended reissue of last year's Where Did The Night Fall. The new version is called Where Did The Night Fall – Another Night Out and features Only the Lonely and a host of other songs as a second disc.

Only The Lonely's music is a mix of electronically influenced post-punk dream pop. Psychedelia and synth pop melt into the thick stew of sound, too. Taken as a whole, there's a sense of moody desperation that kicks in on the very first track.

Take the Money and Run could be the soundtrack for a scene in a Guy Ritchie action flick like Snatch. The dark, droning foundation sets up a desperate energy while Nick Cave's vocal adds the perfect Gothic edge. There's a deconstructed blues vibe at the root, but the thrashy grind and Cave's detachment create a psychedelic intensity.

The tension continues in The Dog is Black. The rhythm drives the song relentlessly. Leila Moss evokes Siouxsie and the Banshees with her arch vocals. At the same time, the chorus sounds like a harder edged version of Running Up That Hill (Kate Bush). Moss's work with the Duke Spirit often hits this space, but the production is smoothed and layered, providing the right level of distance.

The moody instrumental title cut is a mildly psychedelic take on a synth pop jam. Updating a New Order sound, the beat is more uptempo and electric. Only the Lonely takes the time to develop, breathing between steady beat sections and looser, more resonant parts. There's also an ambient quality reminiscent of Brian Eno.

This leads well into the droning dreaminess of Wash the Love Away. Gavin Clark infuses the down tempo groove with languid Bono-style vocals. The rest of the music also fits the U2 mold. The backing vocals expands the sound into its own character.

The hazy dreaming continues on Sunday Song. Rachel Fannen's vocals sound like an up tempo Tori Amos, especially on the chorus. The music, though, maintains the electro post punk sound that pervades the rest of the EP. It's distant and introspective.

I love the way Only the Lonely takes such disparate collaborators and forges a consistent mood and sound. The EP's tension is wrapped in a sonic distance that gives it a soothing, meditative quality. Grab it from UNKLE's online store or spring for the full Where Did The Night Fall – Another Night Out reissue.

1 comment:

  1. I think that James Lavelle should have waited for the real thing....