Saturday, June 11, 2016

Eagulls - Ullages (2016, Partisan) - A brief review

Just a mere two years ago, Eagulls eponymous debut hurled down like a sonic thunderbolt, igniting a sustained, careening blaze by way of George Mitchell's sung/barked timbre, inextricably fused to a raft of stabbing guitar salvos more fearsome than just about any of the band's twentieth century inspirations.  The term "post-punk" gets wielded around more than a ferris wheel at a county fair, but I'll be damned if the second half of that quotient didn't actualize it's meaning on Eagulls.  If anyone espoused the notion that this Leeds, UK quintet's visceral, power chord surge was their only angle, the comparatively tempered Ullages (pronounced eulogies?) is going to throw them for a very abrupt loop.  As it's come about, Eagulls have opted to jump someone else's train...and they've put on their pout to prove it.  

Be it sheer influence, homage to a graying Robert Smith, or merely the necessity to scratch a Seventeen Second-long itch, Ullages is steeped in all things Cure.  To deny this proposition would be the equivalent of denying that airline food lacks quality, or that OJ did the dastardly deed in the summer of 1994.  In fact, it's not a matter of whom Eagulls are trying to portray themselves as prodigies of, so much as the specific era they're heartstrings are tethered to.  Said era can squarely be designated to 1989's Disintegration, the second module in the Cure's "gloom" trifecta, bookended by '82s Pornography, and the third installment, Bloodflowers which arrived in 2000.  The dirty little secret about the latter Bloodflowers is that while it fit Smith & Co's moody mold, the tunes weren't particularly memorable or endearing.  In more than one respect the 'gull's sophomore offering picks up smack dab where the line was cut on Disintegration a quarter century ago. 

A good 70% of this phenomenon is anchored in Mitchell's telltale croon, which by the way is disciplined enough not to encroach into the more maudlin and exaggerated realms Smith so frequently breached.  Remarkably, you won't encounter much in the way of prolonged naval gazing or gratuitous gotharama here, as whatever toil or anguish ensues is part and parcel of the ambiance, not so much a despondent agenda.  Ullages reaches it's melodic and inspired apex on "Velvet" and "Lemontrees," with the Eagulls attaching just enough of their own signature handiwork to differentiate themselves from their otherwise obvious pioneers, and to their credit, the pounding "Aisles" is well outside the Cure's wheelhouse altogether.  In spite of it's overriding derivative tendencies, Ullages could be the most gratifying (and unintentionally nostalgic) album of the year.  It is available now straight from Partisan Records, Amazon and iTunes.  Take in the video for "Skipping" below

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