James Lavelle’s Unkle has had a long and sometimes tortured history. Beginning in 1994 as a British trip-hop outfit, Unkle has accumulated and lost collaborators including Tim Goldsworthy, DJ Shadow, Masayuki Kudo and Toshio Nakanishi. The Beastie Boys, Thom Yorke, Jason Newsted, Badly Drawn Boy, The Verve, Josh Homme and Massive Attack have all crossed musical paths with Lavelle, each leaving their musical imprint on his work as he’s developed from DJ to songsmith.
The Only the Lonely EP is a companion piece to Unkle’s fifth album, 2010 release Where Did the Night Fall. With five guest vocalists (who are each credited as co-writers on their individual tracks) the EP is like a sampler box of Roses chocolates. Each track has an entirely different flavour at its centre, but the different voices and ideas are unified by their coating of silky synths, creamy programmed drums and secret ingredient of bitter dark chocolate intensity.
The Nick Cave flavour is certainly the most moreish on opening track Money and Run. Featuring rock drums that run like footsteps, indie guitars and Cave’s rich, tortured growl, it’s the most dramatic of the songs. “Every time I come down here, somebody is bent on killing me”, groans Cave, who seems unable to sing anything without imbuing it with gravitas and subtext. The darkest and most textured of the tracks, this is the Coffee Crème of the sampler.
The Dog is Black features vocals from The Duke Spirit’s Liela Moss. Tinges of Goldfrapp and PJ Harvey infuse this track, which is the sampler’s Hazelnut Whirl. Title track Only The Lonely, the one song without a guest vocalist, sounds plain in comparison to the other tracks and will therefore be dubbed, The Dairy Milk.
Wash the Love Away is a stunning showcase for the vocals of Clayhill’s Gavin Clark. The track is wistful and filled with longing. Clark’s vocals range from sweet and soaring to low and rich, like a Vanilla Butter Caramel. Sunday Song is a more folky offering, and features soft tambourine and the dreamlike vocals of Californian Rachel Fannan. The Peppermint Cream of the sampler, Fannan’s mannered vocals won’t appeal to everyone. The Cult’s Ian Astbury lends his vocals to final track Forever. With ominous synth and ‘backing screams’, this stirring track carries you away like a Cherry Heaven.
The Only the Lonely EP is certainly not a seven course degustation dinner, but it is a rich and tasty treat nonetheless.
Kathryn van Beek http://www.joyriderpromotions.com/
Click here to listen to Money and Run from Only The Lonely: