Review: Universal Son – Universal Son

A product of the newly-developed Drone Warfare Tapes cassette label, London’s Universal Son are one of the first signings and a very astute one by all accounts. The music on their first EP is apparently a soundtrack to a forthcoming graphic novel by James Eve but a bigger clue to their musical vision are comparisons with Orange Juice and Belle And Sebastian.

Universal Son Album Cover

The band’s opening statement is an impressive one. With vocals from an apparently slightly inebriated David Sylvian (or at the very least a close sound-alike) and sad, insidious guitar melodies from the Josef K school of finger-bending hooks, ‘He’s The Son’ could be labelled an early 1980’s pastiche but it’s a classy product nonetheless. ‘EMI’ resembles a slightly creepy but ultimately attractive post-punk/funk concoction, which builds up nicely from its fuzzed-up beginning whilst ‘Zoe’s Dream’ and ‘Don’t Sleep Tonight’ are more wistful and romantic in their outlook as the band recall the optimistic soul sounds of Orange Juice. Finally comes ‘Listen Up’, easily the most synth-heavy song on the album which conjures up images of Roxy Music recording in a broom cupboard.

One could harp on about the retro-fixated nature of the music but bear in mind this is a cassette-only release (with an mp3 download option) so that kind of goes with the territory. More importantly, the lo-fi production accompanying the band’s all-important tight musicianship lends the EP a distinctive warmth and intimacy and it’s possible both Universal Son and Drone Warfare Tapes could be on to something quite special here.

Web Sites:
Stream of Universal Son – Universal Son
Drone Warfare Tapes Label Site

Further Listening:
Orange Juice, Josef K, Roxy Music

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