Eagulls Ullages Partisan Records
Eagulls’ maturity as a band solidified somewhere in the middle of a relentless touring schedule, one which consumed the last two years and took them from small-town sweaty dives to serious festival dates. Gone are the songs about heroin and the nasty letters to other bands. In their place is Ullages; an album contemplative in its songwriting and bathed in slower, fuller and lusher sounds.
It’s not without faults: album opener Heads Or Tails doesn’t push the right buttons with its theatrical and stop-start drums, and instrumental Harpstrings feels unnecessary. Yet, when singer George Mitchell speaks of “escaping himself”, the shimmering lines of Euphoria hits a personal resonance the band have never pressed. Indeed, for the most part, the heightened production values sit well and Mitchell’s vocals are piercing, with a dream-pop delivery on standout Blume. While the comparisons to the foremost pioneers of these tones from the 80s (Cocteau Twins, Magazine) are inevitable, the reality is that Eagulls’ elevation from their former, gritty four-chord punk sound shows encouraging signs. On single Lemontrees, lead singer George Mitchell sings, “Beneath the lemon trees, lies bittersweet, we share a nation’s consciousness, drown our thoughts to sleep”, and on Skipping, he muses, “Each night the needle slipped, does existence have some more than this?” While there’ll be fans disappointed with Ullages’ lack of immediately gratifying punk anthems, Eagulls’ disaffection is now barbed with poetry as opposed to venom.