Universal Thee

Universal Thee

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(Eventual Heirs)

Stephen Malkmus of alt-rock legends Pavement once said that a good voice isn't the be-all and end-all: "it's more important to sound really unique." Whether he would approve of Universal Thee's explosive debut single, Aranis Natas, with its starry-eyed Pixies-meets-Pavement skew-whiff dynamics, remains to be seen. While not unique sounding, it is an inspired gold nugget of an entry point. What would seem foolhardy is that, having raised expectations, the Edinburgh five-piece bury that jewel bang in the middle of a debut album which threatens to explode but never quite combusts. Advance publicity claims the band have "no concrete template", but that creditable stream-of-consciousness in the end makes the album sound ill-defined and disjointed. Tiger Tiger comes closest to matching the vision of their opening salvo; the lyrics ("Tiger, Tiger, 1, 2, 3/Those promises you took from me"), so grating you feel it must be irony, don't in the end detract from what is a killer tune. Therein lies the frustration: there is as much to admire as there is to shake your head at.

Martin Williams