Monday, 8 April 2013

Ulysses - Kill You Again

Album review by

Despite being a record of original tracks released this year, Ulysses could easily have existed in the '60s or early '70s. Theirs is a style of songwriting that you don't hear too often these days, something the Bath-based band acknowledge if you check the list of influences on their website. They're not afraid to use their guitars and don't shy away from the odd solo, but there's nothing indulgent about this set of three or four-minute-long pop tunes. The production on the 'Kill You Again', and possibly the fact that it was recorded in this current day, both prevent this from becoming a nostalgia session, and you couldn't be fooled into thinking it was a genuine musical relic.

Even the subjects of the songs take influence from the past. The Beatles, early Pink Floyd and others were known to write songs based around interesting character's ('Nowhere Man', 'The Fool On The Hill' 'Mr Kite'/'Arnold Layne', 'See Emily Play', 'Matilda Mother' and so on) and we're taken back to that point with opening track 'Mrs Drawnel' ("take off your face, it's probably best to put it back in its case" has a hint of 'Eleanor Rigby' to it, lyrically at least) and this is followed by 'Oranges & Mary', another '60s-style psych-rock tune; later on we're introduced to 'Taxi Driver', a song that nicks its "beep beep yeah!" from 'Drive My Car'. You could spend the entire album plucking out references to other songs, but that's all part of the plan, a nod to the music that they love.

You can pick out other bands: The Move, T. Rex, Thin Lizzy... the rock vibe of that era is stamped all over 'Kill You Again' as it flirts between glam ('L.O.V.E. Yeah', 'Lesson One') and more traditional, if slightly madcap, rock tunes ('Strays', 'Dominoes Ace'). What makes this a unique record is that, although so many guitar bands are turning to psychedelia at the moment, most are picking one specific variety of the genre. Ulysses have chosen a totally different one, and they also rely heavily on writing good songs. No time is filled with spaced-out jams or any such padding techniques. They stay true to their own idiosyncratic methods, which do include beg, borrow and stealing, and have made an album that proves they were right to do so.

Ulysses' website

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