Every year there’s always a handful of albums that pop out of nowhere and end up being some of the year’s best. Hidden gems that rise through the ranks and give the world hope that we won’t be subjected to the plethora of banal indie landfill for the rest of our lives.
One album that fits this hidden gem bill is The Album Paranoia by London psych-rockers Ulrika Spacek. Released early last year, this wonderfully brilliant debut experimented heavily with krautrock and shoegaze. This has resulted in Ulrika Spacek quickly becoming one of the UK’s most intriguing bands and they have even had Slowdive singing their praises.
Now just over a year since the release of The Album Paranoia, Ulrika have returned with Modern English Decoration. Recorded, produced and mixed entirely in their shared house in East London, does this album live up to last year’s efforts and can it help propel Ulrika into the deserved spotlight?
From the off, Ulrika’s leanings to krautrock are ever present. Mimi Pretend is a steady and melodic krautrock jam that wouldn’t have gone amiss on TOY’s debut record, whilst Silvertonic ensnares you with its mesmerising outro. Elsewhere on the LP, the title track Modern English Decoration is incredibly woozy and feels like you’re tripping out after too much cough syrup. Full of Men is one of the album’s most interesting tracks, with its subtle build and satisfying pay-off.
Dead Museum arrives with a swaggering fuzz filled introduction and eventually transforms into a thick and sludgy colossus. Everything, All The Time is similar with its wicked and evil guitar lines. Resulting in a fuzz laden onslaught towards the track’s climax, Everything, All The Time is easily one of Ulrika’s best tracks to date.
Saw a Habit Forming‘s vocals warble like a track off of King Gizzard & The Lizard’s album Quarters, as they melt into a bed of guitar pedals and effects. Ending on stark and piecing metallic guitar strokes, Saw a Habit Forming bleeds into Victorian Acid. With a menacing bass and twisted vocals, Victorian Acid plays out like My Bloody Valentine thrown into a blender with a bunch of screws and bolts.
Unfortunately, there are moments where Ulrika fall short. The rather forgettable Ziggy gets lost amongst the rest of tracklisting and, by the time Protestant Work Slump rolls round, it already feels somewhat familiar.
Whilst not as immediate as their debut, Modern English Decoration is a brilliant next step for Ulrika. Though it may seem like they are covering tried and tested territory at times, Modern English Decoration is an intricate, sharp and utterly rewarding listen. Honing their sound and paying homage to their clear list of influences, Ulrika Spacek are on their way to greatness.