Often when a band releases their debut album and hits the road hard to promote it, as Eagulls most certainly did, they return with something in the way of an encapsulation of that period.
However, in the case of Eagulls, the polar opposite is to be said. If their self-titled debut album was the surging adrenalin of a young band funnelling all their energies into their opening statement to the world then Ullages is the result of them pausing for breath, reflecting, pondering ‘where next’ and then doing it all again, set on creating an altogether different record.
Having spent a few years filling basements, sweatboxes and a plethora of venues throughout the nation, they found themselves catapulted – with the full support of both mainstream and independent press and radio – to playing all over the world (including Australia), taking in prominent festivals such as Coachella, Laneway, Latitude, Leeds & Reading, Bestival and numerous others, as well as acquiring - often hand-picked - major support slots for bands such as the Manic Street Preachers, The Jesus & Mary Chain, Suede, Franz Ferdinand, The War on Drugs, Ride and more.
Whilst their debut album was a juggernaut of a record, often moving at breakneck speed and intensity, it was also a deeply melodic one, one that underneath the heady fuzz and gushing charge of the guitars laid a band with just as many pop leanings as they had punk. It’s these moments that have been brought to the surface on the new record: dense, deep textured explorations that recall the shimmering opulence of the Cocteau Twins and the ominous gloom of Disintegration / Pornography-era The Cure. It’s a sound that represents what they feel was perhaps a misconception about their personality the first time around, “There was an idea around the release of the first album that we’re these rowdy lads and we’re not, we’re just into making music.” Says guitarist Mark Goldsworthy.
Such dynamism and thoughtfulness is instantaneously apparent on the album: on opening track ‘Heads or Tails’ one might be temporarily fooled into thinking Smiths-era Johnny Marr had resurfaced to lend his melodic touch to the track but the song, much like the guts of the rest of the album, has a faint whiff of such timeless song structure but takes a new shape, unmistakably becoming the band’s own. On ‘My Life in Rewind’ the group allow ruminating bass-lines to power the underbelly of the song as luminous guitar lines dance afloat on top and powerful but restrained drums colour the background. It’s on tracks such as this that the vocals themselves become another layer of melody, gliding within the song almost like another guitar track has been thrown into the mix. Whilst thunderous drums and heavy hammering bass may lead the opening to ‘Lemontrees’, it’s songs such as these that display the group’s natural propensity for plucking out a melody as beautiful as it is gutsy from seemingly nowhere - it’s a trait that can be found peppered throughout the entire record.
It’s refreshing as it is exhilarating to hear Eagulls’ Ullages as they continue to forge a prominent British voice in the world of music. This record is every bit as dazzling as it’s predecessor but it comes along with that most rare and treasured quality of being so in a way that feels simultaneously new whilst remaining in the existing character and tone of the band. Never has the term ‘sophomore slump’ been kicked so mercilessly to death as by Eagulls on this album.
In stores NOW!
1. Heads or Tails
3. My Life in Rewind
11. White Lie Lullabies
NB: All photos courtesy of respective Artists and copyrights held with respective photographers.