Oct 09, 2012 Web Exclusive
Sometimes when you’re reviewing a record it’s easier to describe its sound with imagery and cod-synesthesia than it is to simply discuss what other music it sounds like. On the odd occasion these attempts at the poetic approach prove to be a good idea, but there always lies the risk that as a writer you’ll sound less Robert Christgau and more like a crap tour guide at a modern art museum.
Such pitfalls are easily avoided, though, when the album’s sound is centered on someone inextricably linked with some of the defining alternative records of the past 20 years. This is the case with Ultraísta and Nigel Godrich, whose sound has become so ubiquitous and recognisable since OK Computer way back in 1997. Ultraísta is a pseudo supergroup that sees the effective sixth member of Radiohead once again teaming up with sometime-R.E.M. and Beck drummer Joey Waronker, as well as London’s Laura Bettinson on vocals.
The end product sounds, unsurprisingly, a lot like Godrich and Waronker’s Thom Yorke-fronted side-project Atoms for Peace, albeit with a melodic pop twist that this time refuses to be obfuscated by glitches and twitchy percussion. Lead single “Bad Insect” is positively upbeat, the danceable, sunny cousin to Radiohead’s The King of Limbs; meanwhile the likes of “Small Talk” and the Pavement-acknowledging “Gold Dayzz” are the sound of Burial rising from the sod.
Ultraísta could so easily have been yet another post-dubstep decent-but-disposable record. Instead the trio have managed to create something that genuinely impresses and surprises. (www.ultraista.co.uk)
Author rating: 8/10
Average reader rating: 9/10