UNKLE - End Titles... Stories for Film
Record Label: Surrender All
Release Date: July 7, 2008
Over the years UNKLE have built up a considerable amount of cred in the experimental indie realm, and a lot of that (at least in this reviewer’s humble opinion) centers around their excellent cameo-filled debut, Psyence Fiction. Sure, UNKLE’s got a unique brand of beat driven space-out rock, but it was really Mike D’s kick ass verses, Thom Yorke’s memorable vocal drawl, and the presence of Damon G (from Badly Drawn Boy) that made the disc the legend that it now is. Because of the high standard set with that debut, many fans would argue UNKLE have gotten incrementally less awesome album by album, but those critics have obviously not heard End Titles... Stories for Film.
For one thing, James Lavelle still knows how to pick his contributors. “Chemical” features Queens of the Stone Age’s Josh Homme (who showed up on Never, Never, Land as well and provided its sole sparkling moment) and you’ll know his distinctive melodic moan when you hear it. But unlike Psyence Fiction, End Titles doesn’t just rely on outside contributions to catch the listener’s ear; it’s just a really solid album on its own, even without “Chemical”.
The 74 minute checkpoint might freak you out at first (you’re in for a commitment – that’s like two albums smushed together) but it never gets exhausting. UNKLE have got the style and the creativity to back up their ambition and drive… they’re not the dog that barks but doesn’t bite. The huge Radiohead influence in tracks like “Cut Me Loose” are huge selling points, and the overall swirling atmospherics that connect the album occasionally recall Pink Floyd in their swimming majesty. There’s all kinds of dark British influence in here (which makes sense when you consider that UNKLE are from London).
Even if UNKLE’s style doesn’t appeal to you, the way the album is set up is interesting enough to make it worth hearing; there’s no hit single and no filler. Rather, it’s a fluid piece of soul searching entrancement. “Ghost” is immediately followed by its string reprise (which is how this beast got to 22 tracks in length… you’ll be pissed off when your iTunes shuffles to the latter of the two since they're essentially one piece.) The symphonic approach to tracks like “Trouble in Paradise” is reminiscent of The Moody Blues’ Days of Future Past in its seamless fusion of rock and orchestral music.
Ladies and gentlemen, you’ll feel like you’re floating in space when you hear this epic album, and I’m sure that’s exactly what UNKLE intended. Bravo, James Lavelle – this is way better than Never, Never, Land, and it’s way better than most CD’s out there right now.