On All Our Golden Tomorrows, their triumphant fourth album,
UHF convincingly show that a band need not wallow in the
retro-narcissism that currently dominates the charts to integrate
the sounds of the past into contemporary music. The album abounds
with audible influences, from the Krautrock-inflected echo effects
that kick off killer opening track "Disconnect" to the
Bends-era Radiohead semblance of late track "Goodbye
Hello" (whose title also suggests The Beatles, of
course). But it adds one crucial ingredient that lifts UHF well
above the teeming masses of backward-looking bands: amazing songwriting.
With a tight sense of structure, smart lyrics, and-most importantly-an
impeccable ear for the sharpest hooks this side of Captain Hook's
left arm, UHF deserve a place at the head of the indie-rock table.
A laundry list of those influences fails to capture the transcendent
pull of All Our Golden Tomorrows, but it does give a sense
of where UHF is coming from. "Disconnect," which would
be blasting from a million radios as I type this in a world where
airplay was based on sheer quality rather than corporate bribery,
bridges the gap between Can and disco, with verses that
sound like late 1980s/early'90s Meat Puppets. "The
Behemoth" could be an outtake from one of Peter Gabriel's
self-titled prog-rock albums of the late 1970s, except that it's
too good to be an outtake. "The Inbetweens" sounds like
David Bowie in his spacey early '70s phase, when he decided
that homo sapiens had outgrown their use. Then there's the aforementioned
traces of Radiohead, and even the garagey "So High,"
where the chords bang out like smacks to the heads of the numerous
pseudo-garage bands going through the motions to inexplicable
acclaim that would be better directed toward this. And okay, the
band's name calls to mind the cinematic debut of "Weird
Al" Yankovich, but any lingering thoughts of "Amish
Paradise" are wiped out within the first ten seconds.
These comparisons are just a roadmap, not an encapsulation of
UHF. The band plays with a vivid, infectious exuberance that almost
masks the careful musicianship holding the album together, and
the smooth production gives every instrument a warm clarity-even
the keyboards are mixed in perfectly, neither dominating the mix
nor struggling to be heard beneath the guitars, bass and drums.
"Come with me and we'll go flying," offers singer Jeremy
Leff at one point. Take him up on it; the only risk is that
UHF will go "So High" the sun will melt their wings.
3. Revolving Door
4. Rules of the Game
5. Making Connections
6. So High
7. The Behemoth
8. The Inbetweens
10. Goodbye Hello
11. A Flight of Stairs
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