Review: Umpire – Now We’re Active

Umpire are a new act hailing from Perth, Australia. Yet despite ‘Now We’re Active’ being their first album together, the band members have also appeared  in various other guises, most notably as fellow Hidden Shoal Recordings’ labelmates Mukaizake, whose own technical expertise was matched by tunefulness for 2009’s ‘Unknown Knowns’.

‘Green Light District’ reflects an upbringing on left of centre American radio rock. It’s anthemic but it has a core of misery running through its veins. The second song, ‘Supply Chins’, is propelled by crunchy guitar riffs and FM friendly choruses. It’s an impressive start from Umpire and they very rarely lose momentum after that.

The guitar and vocal curveballs on ‘Corner An Owl In An Alcove’ and ‘Jewellery Can Be Disturbing’ are as inventive as their titles suggest and even more compelling. Some momentum is lost on the leaden-paced ‘On The Fringes’ but if that song is a band tired of life, ‘Streamers’ and ‘Milking A Thistle’ sees them invigorated with youthful exuberance, whilst the stark, echo-laden ‘Spotlights’ proves they can perform ballads and still send shivers down the spine.

Intelligently the group have learned from experiences in progressive, American radio and post rock to produce a satisfying and complete record. This is proof that mature rock can also thrill.

Web Sites:
Umpire MySpace
Hidden Shoal Recordings Label and Shop Site

Further Listening:
Mukaizake, The Mitchells

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