Tag Archives: consequence of sound

Ultravox: Brilliant review

[Oh my god. The comments I got on this. Ultravox fans are … wow … they’re pretty dedicated. Still, this record is kinda crap, and yeah, I know what I’m talking about.]

(2 out of 5)

In a recent interview with the Spanish magazineMetropoli, former Ultravox singer John Foxx had this to say about nostalgia: “It’s an illness. It’s a kind of death. Why should anyone attempt to imitate themselves as a young man – often a foolish young man? You have to be blind, vain, and terribly insecure to do this. There is absolutely no point in looking backwards when there is still so much to investigate.” While he wasn’t being asked about the band he founded, it’s pretty clear that Foxx would think that the idea of Ultravox reuniting with his replacement (Midge Ure) is faintly ridiculous for a number of reasons – and it’s not hard to disagree with that assessment.

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Yuna: Yuna CD review

(2 out of 5 stars)

In a 2009 Q&A with Malaysian website Voize, singer-songwriter Yuna described her sound as “a cross between Coldplay and Mary Poppins.” This was apparently said with neither guile nor guilt, and, to be sure, it’s not an inaccurate assessment. The thing is, it’s impossible to imagine a world in which such an amalgamation is a good thing.

Since 2006, Yuna has been making pop music in Malaysia, attracting plenty of fans, including the US-based management team that signed her, landed her a record deal via Fader, and is now attempting to translate that into success stateside. Now, Malaysian pop stars — or, really, any Asian pop stars, for that matter — haven’t had a successful track record here, but that’s often been ascribed to language barriers or stylistic incompatibilities (and, no, the fact that K-Pop is a thing doesn’t negate any of this). Yuna, however, makes music that is not only sung in English, but also manages to embody the most anodyne and accessible aspects of Western adult contemporary pop.

With a lilting, childlike voice that resembles that of the Sundays’ Harriet Wheeler–but with less strength or personality–and a preference for simplistic musical arrangements that are pleasant in a shopping-at-the-Gap kind of way, Yuna attempts to evoke a gentle, adult-indie sensibility, but she wound up creating a wisp of an album that’s ultimately insubstantial.

A more forceful singer could have effectively balanced the muted swing-and-sway of “See You Go” or the jazzy, ukelele-backed swoon of “Bad Day” with a delivery that imparted some emotional strength on these somnambulant arrangements. Contrarily, when given a beefier, more complex backing–such as on the Massive Attack-quoting slow-burn of “Lullabies”–Yuna’s whisper of a voice doesn’t even help paint a sonic picture.

While her backstory may certainly be compelling, Yuna’s music is not. It’s far from awful, but it’s equally far from interesting, muddling about in that dull netherworld of music that sounds good while you’re waiting for your coffee, but is forgotten as soon as you walk out of the cafe.

Essential Tracks: “Lullabies”

First appeared May 9, 2012 at Consequence of Sound.

Reptar: Body Faucet CD review

(3 out of 5)

Pity the poor band that develops a reputation as an impressive live act. All that word-of-mouth praise that results in your next show in town always being a big deal; that should be a good thing, right? Well, sure–unless the time comes for you to finally deliver your debut album, and what emerges from the studio bears little resemblance to the vibrant, communal enthusiasm your fans have been experiencing at your shows.

Such is the case with Body Faucet, the first full-length album from Athens, GA’s Reptar. Over the past couple of years, the quartet has been delivering energetic and welcoming concert experiences that have been low on subtlety and high on percussive, pogo-ready power-pop. Those shows dish up mildly interesting musical strains that make their way to the surface–the deceptively complex, South African-inspired rhythms, the treated synths–but the signature marks of Reptar live are the glistening melodies and dead-simple chant-along choruses that manage to bring even the most hesitant crowd together.

Unfortunately, a buoyant concert experience is difficult to translate to record, and whileBody Faucet should be a warm and joyous album, it’s rather dry and airless instead. Yes, Reptar still sounds like the combination of post-”Oxford Comma” poly-rhythms and ’80s synth-pop you never thought you needed to hear, but producer Ben Allen (Washed Out, Animal Collective) is unable to generate any organic electricity from those elements.

The album is most successful when Reptar gets the most direct: Cuts like the forceful Atari-funk of “Sweet Sippin’ Soda” and the dynamic New Wave rush of “New House” areBody Faucet‘s simplest numbers, but they’re also the most powerful. Even the lolling groove of “Isoprene Bath” manages to work, as Reptar cuts its rhythmic complexities with a driving and insistent chorus; sadly, its effectiveness is tempered by the track that follows it, “Orfice Origami, a hand-clap rocker that’s perfect for the stage, but sounds like rudderless mush here.

And that’s indicative of the main failing of most of the rest of Body Faucet: The band’s live energy has been muffled, while their nuances have been tamped down to the point of being inconsequential. By splitting the difference, they’ve created a work that’s neither fish nor fowl. It’s definitely enjoyable, but it’s also inconsequential.

Essential Tracks: “Sweet Sippin’ Soda” and “New House”

First appeared May 1, 2012 in Consequence of Sound.