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UNKLE - End Titles   Print  E-mail 
Written by Mark Reed  
Monday, 14 July 2008

Confounds Expectations...

The ever-evolving UNKLE have moved beyond the critically-lauded plaudits of their inception to a new configuration. Taking a cue - intentional or not - from U2's "Passengers" project, UNKLE have produced their third album in a year (if you include the Australian/Japanese "More Stories" rarities collection), with a record made and designed for the visual medium. Almost everything on this record was originally part of a soundtrack, be it for an advert, film, or documentary, and "End Titles" collects all their disparate work in one place, saving the elite UNKLE collector a ton of money.

Is it any good? Well, in a word, yes. UNKLE don't really release any stinkers, and they appear to be rather prolific of late, mining a creative slew that appears positively mogadon compared to The Beatles-album-every-six-months, but by modern standards - where four years between records is seen as the norm - UNKLE are aflame. The UNKLE template rests on three distinct elements, vast and sweeping string sections designed for cinema, unusual and unconventional rhythms, and understated vocals from a variety of guests. Whilst this fails to produce a coherent authorial voice for the record, it allows UNKLE not to be dominated by one musical or lyrical vision, every song sits both together and alone.

At a majestic 74 minutes - and not one of them is wasted - "End Titles" sounds like a coherent and important listening experience instead of what you might fear it is : it could be a hodgepodge compilation of random leftovers, but thankfully, "End Titles" is as much a record as anything else in their discography, in the traditional sense of a distinct listening experience with a musical and thematic narrative combines to form a whole greater than the sum of the parts rather than just a bunch of songs stuck together and placed on a plastic disc. It is a damn fine album, without any sense of filler or a distinct musical dip in quality at any point, that encompasses UNKLE at their finest. It may in fact, be their best record yet, and it's a shame that more bands don't do this kind of thing, clearing the decks and tidying up the loose ends to create an interesting, and important, curiosity in their body of work. "End Titles" is a fine record with no sense of any reason to exist other than as a musical work that deserves to stand on it's own merits. And it's merits are well deserved.


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