With four albums and three EPs to their credit, the Ukrainians certainly have enough material to warrant this best-of collection. And it's good to see that they've weighted it in favor of their original and traditional material, rather than the covers of the Smiths and the Sex Pistols that, wonderful as they are, act as a lovely diversion from the meat of what the band's about. That said, the disc opens with a new track, another cover, this time of the Tornadoes' "Telstar," which feels a little hastily thrown together. Get past that, and into the momentum of the record, and it's a headlong trip. Their signature combination of driving punk and Ukrainian folk styles has always been a natural, if frenetic fit, although more recently they've been willing to temper the headlong pace and bring out the inherent beauty of the melodies. The covers they have chosen ("Bigmouth Strikes Again," "The Queen Is Dead," "Anarchy in the UK," and the Velvet Underground's "Venus in Furs" -- whose origins are in a Ukrainian book) highlight the range of their own influences succinctly, and are also very well done. The Smiths material, in particular, has a doleful quality that meshes perfectly with the mournful Ukrainian sound. In fact, with one possible exception, the not-so-hot "UkrainAmerica," the selection here is nigh-on perfect as a representation of the band. As encapsulations go, they don't come much better than this.
Istoriya: The Best Of The Ukrainians Review
by Chris Nickson