Album Review: Ulrika Spacek – Modern English

Modern English Decoration

Released 2nd June 2017

Words: Nick Jacques

This is the 2nd album from the Reading foursome Ulrika Spacek called Modern English Decoration. They like a lot of bands, have over time evolved before settling into a shape and colour they’re comfortable with. It’s with Modern English Decoration that we can definitely see that this is more apparent than ever before. Members of the band have previously spent time in Germany and you can see the influence that has had on their latest offering.

To try and gage this band’s sound, you could compare them with the likes of other contempories Toy, who possess a similar motoric/krautrock engine and also with a slight hint of Unknown Mortal Orchestra. In genre terms, they amble and drift their way towards a My Bloody Valentine shoegaze territory.

Opener Mimi Pretends is a deliciously striking track with a crooked hook which sets the tone fittingly for this album that is full of curious, beguiling and otherworldly vibes. Elsewhere Silvertonic provides a nice glistening wake-up nudge to the sedative atmosphere that’s being forged and has an edge to it.

Vocals are generally hushed, that hover over the hypnotic cagey riffs and the zombie motoric drum momentum. They do tend to get lost in the collage of unorthodox riffs but I think this works well with the general otherworldly druggy-haze of the music.

Dead Museum and Ziggy consist of sludgy guitars that grind away gloriously and want the listener to surrender to the tense and engulfing atmosphere that Ulrika Spacek are shaping.

The toned down acoustics of the album title track Modern English Decoration provides a timely and pleasing disorientated point in the album. The only issue with the track is that it could be a bit longer and build into something wonderfully monstrous as it has the ingredients to do so.

However things pick up again with the arresting and hypnotic Full of Men. The track is supported by a repetitive hook that is relentless, in a kind of chilled out sort of way, if you’re still with me.

Throughout Modern English Decoration there seems to be a strong sense of intoxication being projected out in a blissed out and clever fashion. Is it at times life-affirming stuff and provides a different backdrop and focus to the current crop of talent out there at the moment.

The nicely titled Victorian Acid is an addictive thick slice of shoegaze that squeals with feedback and leaves the listener begging for extra whipped cream!

The album finishes with the more plaintive trimmings of Protestant Work Slump. It sums up the psyche of this album really well. The album seems to have a way of projecting the delusions that modern day society finds itself in and is quite oblivious to. This is a great album to lose yourself in.

The arrival of Modern English Decoration is a more than acceptable example of what shoegaze music can still conjure up in this day and age. With other bands from the same genre like Slowdive also making a comeback this year, it may be time to focus on this at times underestimated music style.


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