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Album Review
Only the Lonely

Only the Lonely
by Unkle

Surrender All

Review Date
29th April
Reviewed by
Riccardo Kerr

James Lavelle’s UNKLE are nothing if not prolific. As well as their four full length albums they have numerous pseudo albums (2007’s War Stories was accompanied the following year by both the B-sides collection More Stories and the scattershot End Titles) as well as remixes and EPs. It is as if UNKLE is a constantly shifting force that can only be seen while being documented. Many of these EPs offer alternate versions of previous songs as well as remixes, allowing you to see the group’s mutation and evolution. Only the Lonely is the latest EP to follow in this tradition and it is a body of music that references the band’s past as well as casting a new line into the future.

The evidence for this is in the supporting cast. The voice of Gavin Clarke has been a recurring motif for the last 5 years in UNKLE and he is present here again. Rachel Fannan who sang alongside Sleepy Sun for the psych onslaught of ‘Follow Me Down’ last year is back, as is The Cult’s Ian Astbury who starred prominently on War Stories. Is looking over their shoulder at past accomplishments intentional? Perhaps it is to cap off this era and to signal the next step forward. Before any of this can happen though one comes to the formidable opening track ‘Money and Run’. UNKLE have always had a penchant for working with cult figures (Thom Yorke, Joshua Homme, Richard Ashcroft, Mark Lanegan, DJ Shadow) but they might have hit the Holy Grail by adding Nick Cave to list. The song is a long, surging grind that gives Cave the room to ramble, stammer, and holler as only he can. The music is invigorated and urgent making for a hellish noise worthy of the marquee position it holds.

The downside of frontloading your album with such a stunning track is that the rest of feels a little … ordinary. I’m a big fan of UNKLE’s nocturnal industrial-hop but all of this is starting to feel a bit familiar. Any of these tracks, as enjoyable as they are, would have fit squarely in with their last few albums which is a bit disappointing. This isn’t even the first EP of what I hesitate to call leftovers from the Where Did The Night Fall vault, with The Answer EP coming out late last year. Rachel Fannan is again haunting and haunted on ‘Sunday Song’, Duke Spirit’s Liela Moss pulls the Bjork card, and Astbury plays the spectre of rock and roll with aplomb. Only the Cave collaboration holds much water here but it is a brilliant track. Brilliant enough to justify a whole EP? Maybe not but we are better off for having it.


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