Monday, 11 July 2011

ALBUM REVIEW: Ungdomskulen - Gimme Ten


I blame Radiohead. In the current music scene, it would seem that it isn’t enough to agonise for months over the writing, recording, producing and mastering of an LP; music fans expect more. Spearheaded by ‘In Rainbows’ ‘pay what you like’ policy and the release of ‘The Universal Sigh’, bands are increasingly looking to unconventional gimmicks by way of marketing tactics. One trio amongst the ranks is Norwegians Ungdomskulen with their ‘Gimme Ten’; ten songs released over the course of two weeks and compiled for free download from Soundcloud.

The accompanying press release assures the listener that, despite the record clocking in at under ten minutes, it is without any compromise on intro, verse and chorus”; however, the resulting affect is inescapably, sonically strained. The opening track ‘Elle’ showcases a strong start with jagged, angular math-rock elements that draw inevitable comparisons with Kingston scene starlets Tubelord and Meet Me in Saint Louis; these are, however, spoiled by the droning vocal that dominates. ‘It’s Official’ and ‘Your Soul’ also hint towards are more consistent melody but these are not given a chance to develop, nipped in the bud by the LP’s ruthless as well as frustrating brevity. You cannot deny Ungdomskulen’s ambitious broadness of sound, veering wildly from the melodic funk akin to Florida’s Twin Shadow to the hip hop beats of !!! (chk-chk-chk) to the epic, thundering rhythms of Talons. However, this amalgamation of influences compressed into ten songs, most under a minute in length, results in a confused variety of sounds that fail to create a sense of cohesion. Perhaps the most bizarre victim of this almost schizophrenic method is ‘Take It Back’; at best, a faintly amusing Foo Fighters parody, at worst, a baffling face-melting-guitar-badda-bleep-badda-bleep muddle.

Although the threesome show glimmers of promise at times, their lack of consistency and absence of a united sound leaves ‘Gimme Ten’ as a jumbled collection of tracks akin to a catalogue of randomly assembled samples. Intending to stretch and defy musical and industrial convention, they seem to have run out of steam. And at just eight minutes and 37 seconds.