James Lavelle is both the Timbaland and The Archbishop Don "Magic" Juan of the electronic-rock-chronic universe. The liner notes on War Stories, the third album from UNKLE, reads like a festival guest list, citing eclectic raconteurs from all bends of the storybook spectrum, who join talents and tall tales to create the best home makeover record of 2007.
"Chemistry" picks up the pulverizing jab of power Lavelle punched all over the Sexy Beast soundtrack, one of many albums produced by big pimpin, who decides to rip out his own vocals on the hulking thumper "Hold My Hand."
Here comes the asexual howl of Josh Homme for the album's most arousing banger, "Restless," the new song that your thirteen year old daughter will be having unprotected sex to. This fucker is no joke but could give even the squarest corpse a smile. This true chief rocka is an erogenous ball of heat, tightly wound and rolling down the greased alley towards a helpless set of pins for the a bombastic strike.
The album mellows out, only slightly, for "Keys To The Kingdom," then flashes a similarly somber tone like Thom Yorke's "Black Swan" or LCD's "Someone Great" on the "Price You Pay." This potent anesthetic goes from a leisurely stroll off the edge into a perilous pitfall of screaming organs until a slick transition rescues you from the delicious fantasy and throws you into the maddening fire of "Burn My Shadow." The raspy blare of Ian Asbury, with the nasal delivery of a mild mannered Steve Albini and sincere beauty of Johnny Cash, gives this overpowering magnum of hysterics a voice of mild sanity. I'm not quite sure which knucklehead ordered up the Moody Blues / Zombies group harmony poppers, but I ate them anyway. Kudos to the casting director who tapped the former Cult/Door for voice and Twiggy Ramierez who buckled the bass line real scary like all spooky children do.
"Persons & Machinery," with the added spice of Autolux, can be tossed right into current day disco-jam mixes to light any club night on fire. Here comes "Twilight" with the salvation spirit of Massive Attack's 3-D, to blow out the flames with a sweet breath of cool.
Sadly, no rescue mission in the world could save the burning wreckage of "Mayday," proving that not all lab experiments show positive results. I wouldn't have said anything, but my man wouldn't let me in to see him spin that night at Fabric when I flew over to London in a psychotic display of romance to impress my girlfriend, who later dumped me as a result. Sorry I had to remember that fake moment of my real life. I'll send that chick this album as a make up gift.
Yes, and what a gift War Stories really is. Rock and rollers, those crazy long haired amplifier detonating wastes of space, really need to catch up to speed with the blur them electronic kids are hearing. That stretch of light that can be bent and shaped and rearranged by multiple partners in the operating room, cutting and manipulating tape into a new monster. Lavelle can't be the only one with a studio, equipment and rolodex. Hopefully bands will begin to realize that the creation process is way more important than the final product, which in today's world, can be whored out beyond the capacity of human thought, taking your creation in and turning it out into a drool of chewed potatoes.
03. "Hold My Hand"
04. "Restless" (featuring Josh Homme)
05. "Keys To The Kingdom" (featuring Gavin Clark)
06. "Price You Pay"
07. "Burn My Shadow" (featuring Ian Astbury)
08. "May Day" (featuring The Duke Spirit)
09. "Persons And Machinery" (featuring Autolux)
10. "Twilight" (featuring 3D)
11. "Morning Rage"
13. "Broken" (featuring Gavin Clark)
14. "When Things Explode" (featuring Ian Astbury)
"Burn My Shadow" (featuring Ian Astbury)