July 16, 2024

Eagulls – Ullages: The contemporary alternative to a ‘Best Of The Cure’ album


I took the CD out of the player half-way through the first track, Heads Or Tails. The shimmering glaze of shoegaze, the slightly twangy guitar, the melodrama and the Fat Bob vocals had me convinced that this was The Cure.

It wasn’t, but, on putting it back in, the Echo And The Bunnymen guitar sound of Euphoria and distant, pained Robert Smith vocals had me all confused again. It’s a really surprising album from a young band famed for their raw energy. Not that there’s no energy – there is plenty here – but it is structured carefully in thoroughly arranged songs. And I can’t get over how much they sound like The Cure, a sound from thirty years ago, somewhere after Faith but before the eighties drew to a close.

Eagulls have worked carefully on this set, even down to the name, an anagram, meaning the space left empty in a vessel. They’ve gone for what they personally want to do now that they have an acclaimed debut under their collective belt. Mark Goldsworthy (guitar) says that they were after something more dynamic, more thoughtful, something that showed they weren’t the rowdy lads the live shows suggested. The other guitarist, Liam Matthews, talks about wanting to do something that was out of their depth and here, I hear the sound of a band looking towards the sheen of post-rock and turning instead to a complex, layered assemblage of post-pop.

They haven’t cheered up since the angry debut and Lemontree is about the bittersweet fruit that’s out of reach. My Life In Rewind is pensive, echoey, a classic sound of the early to mid-eighties. Something Cocteau Twins-ish, but without the lovely vocals. Velvet has twanging, Echoplexed steel strings and Psalms, big boomy drums. Throughout is George Mitchell’s voice, ever-reminiscent of student bedsit land of the eighties and mad black hair. Skipping is huge, with Smiths-ish guitar figures overtaken by slabs of Simple Minds sound and George telling us “all I ever wanted was an answer”. It is the Goth-iest moment in a very Gothy album.

Get the hair dye and hairspray out, I’ve got a new trenchcoat ready for Saturday night.

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