Album Review: UNKLE – Only The Lonely (2011 EP)

There’s a general conception that everything James Lavelle touches turns to gold, and this idea still stands, even this many years into his career. The Mo Wax labelhead, celebrated DJ and electronic musician’s main project has always been UNKLE, an electronic/rock act that have now cemented their status as one of modern music’s genuinely eclectic forces. A revolving door of musicians and collaborators, the band – now featuring core members Lavelle and Pablo Clements – has shifted its sound alongside the ever-changing lineup. They may be a subtly different band to the one who championed trip hop and house in their first album Psyence Fiction but UNKLE have proven with each subsequent release that no matter what style they tread, they are capable of maintaining a sound that is undeniably ‘them’.

Once again the duo have rounded up an impressive array of guests for Only the Lonely, an EP released alongside an extended reboot of last year’s Where Did The Night Fall. Heading the charge is the enigmatic Nick Cave, whose distinctive, droney vocals dominates the aggressive and intense opening track “Money and Run”. Cave’s dramatic tones are the perfect complement to UNKLE’s dark and atmospheric orchestrations, and this definitely one of their most inspired collaborations to date.

Of course, UNKLE have always had an uncanny knack for finding the perfect vocalists and for this EP they draw on some familiar favourites. Liela Moss features on “Dog is Back” and gives the rhythmic, driving song an appropriate Duke Spirit-style, psychedelic rock feel. Former Sleepy Sun singer Rachel Fannan also makes a very welcome return to the guest roster, lending her jarringly ethereal vocals to the shoegazey “Sunday Song”.

Longtime collaborartor Gavin Clark adds his laidback vocals to the Middle Eastern-inspired and new wave-tinged “Wash The Love Away”, a promising concert stopper with its layers of sweeping synths, orchestration and stadium-rock style chorus.The EP also features the Ian Astbury-sung tune “Forever”, which appeared on the film soundtrack to the documentary The Lives of Artists – Follow Me Down. Intersecting the EP is the eerie title track, a film noir-esque and wonderfully moody instrumental song with Nine Inch Nails-inspired industrial tones and screeching synths. This is another well composed and superb release from one of electronic music’s greats.

Review score: 7/10