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All Our Golden tomorrows
Second Story Records

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.

-Whit Strub

Track Listing:
1. Disconnect
2. Battery
3. Revolving Door
4. Rules of the Game
5. Making Connections
6. So High
7. The Behemoth
8. The Inbetweens
9. Nothing
10. Goodbye Hello
11. A Flight of Stairs

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