Live in Portland October 10, 2018 | Doug Fir
Ulrika Spacek are an experimental rock band based in London, England with an affable, low-key sound. The band, formed around 2014, has in the past followed something of a DIY-ethic, working on their 2016 debut The Album Paranoia and the 2017 follow-up Modern English Decoration in their house in East London. Since that second album, the quintet (Rhys Edwards on guitar/vocals, Rhys Williams on guitar, Callum Brown on drums, Joseph Stone on guitar/keys and Syd Kemp on bass) remains a relatively straightforward rock band with muscle, but they’ve introduced a world of more relaxing, krautrock-esque sound on their latest EP, Suggestive Listening. The EP has a comfy intimacy to it, reflective of the band’s origin in the close friendship between Edwards and Williams.
On Suggestive Listening, Edwards’s half-mumbled vocals fit well with the plodding pulse of their music, like his voice is reaching you from under a pile of blankets or through memory’s thick fog. Even when harrassed by the neurasthenic troubles they describe in songs like “Black Mould,” Ulrika Spacek keep things relatively downtempo and calming. In a way, these are sleepwalking songs with an ambience not unlike those of half-forgotten ‘90s eclectic English pop-experimentalists like Stereolab and Pram. Perhaps, however, the band would be quicker to name Pavement or Sonic Youth as influences; indeed, on their earlier efforts a bit more of fuzzy, snarling guitar came through, though there are but traces of that sensibility on the new EP. A song like “Lord Luck” seems to itself be the panacea to the worry and fatigue that it describes.
Make what you will of the cheeky title and album artwork, made up to look like vintage documentation from the French association of amateur radio enthusiasts… I think of this collection as a good fix for a tension headache, or oddly ideal listening material for a rainy day.