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Polaroids Of Androids

Record Reviews

7.3

The UV Race
Homo

Punk music. Discuss. Actually, don't. Because that always ends in a mess. With people's perceptions of the genre — and more specifically the millions of splintered offshoots it has been divided into over the past 30-odd years — causing more debate than Osama birth certificates, Obama death certificates and Donald Trump's awkward lip quiver. Too soon1.

Regardless of your viewpoint on what punk is, what it has become and/or Blink 182's "serious album", there's one undoubtable truth — punk music is about defiance. Pushing back against expectations. Not merely just adhering to unpredictability, but also refusing to stay focused or remain on a set path. Anarchy is the obvious answer, but not necessarily the correct, or only, one.

Using that same logic, The UV Race are the most genuinely "punk" group to emerge since Nancy stabbed Sid with a dirty syringe and told him to "get his own glass of pinot". The Melbourne band's scattered release pattern of seven-inches, crude self-published zines and the occasional LP (such as our point of focus here) has defined them as friendly, wandering jangly nomads of their own unique style, hardly sticking to a formulaic approach on any release and yet also never defiantly bolting in the opposite direction to their audience's expected destiny. For the most part they've simply drifting along on the wave of their own momentum, with little or no regard paid to how they're perceived by the record-buying, torrent-leeching public.

Homo finds The UV Race once more floating into a new world. The shaking fists of their debut full-length has been replaced by a thicker wall of sound, essentially built around the constant newly-wed power struggle between guitars, drums and a fairly prominent wailing saxophone. While they've flirted with this contrasting palette for a little while, it's the musical focus on Homo and more appropriately entrenched into the compositions, with extrovert frontman Marcus Reichsteiner also refining his vocal style to an even more relaxed state in order to snugly comfort the stretched wails and untuned clattering. The unmuddled, everyday story-lines of love, lust and Melbourne suburbs remains the lyrical focus, but Marcus' drawling delivery has been slightly adapted, slowed down at points to being just slightly more enthused than a drunken slur.

Much like the music spawned from Sid's experimental "wine appreciation era" this fresh adaption of their style yields mixed results. The opening two tracks, Girl In My Head and Burn That Cat, sound like the initial experimental merging, with Reichsteiner's confrontational approach (not too dissimilar from his live persona, minus the inside-out underpants) mixing well with the sloppy junkyard guitars and thick layer of background horns. The rest of the LP is a mixed bag, with Marcus' larger-than-life persona occasionally sounding rattled and fragile. Altogether not a bad thing, but the slower ballads such as Lost My Way and Down Your Street trudge along at a frustratingly limp pace, completely void of the same free-spirited, jam-session vibrancy of the band's best work. On other occasions, Reichsteiner's charisma is rightfully throttled to the front of the stage, with his spoken-word rants on Inner North and Always Late elegantly walking the tightrope between stark honesty and humorous engagement, much like ol' Nancy on a morphine/barbiturate cocktail bender.

The standout, however, is the title track, which closes out the album with a perfectly shambolic parade. It's the most natural hybrid of the band's perfectly unorganised mess and the impenetrable thick waves, beginning as a straight-forward fist-pumping act of rebellion before slowly morphing into a more chaotic orgy of guitars and drawn-out saxophone wails. While signifying the unlikely possibility of the band being able to make these two opposing styles gel cohesively and without restraint, it also has the adverse effect of highlighting the slightly forced mating that exists throughout the rest of the LP.

Homo isn't a failed evolutionary step, but a genuinely interesting band creating the music they want to create. While, on this occasion at least, it doesn't quite work perfectly, you have to admire their lust for defiance and their genuine obsession with "punk" attitude. Whatever that means, right?

1. Well it was when it was written about two months ago.

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The UV Race

 

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