Weighing in at a mere eight songs that clock in at under a half-hour, Universal Pulse barely meets the modern parameters of a full-length album. It feels as brief as an EP and its tightness extends to the songs themselves, which don’t so much boil 311 down to their essence but focus on their hardest, boldest elements. Within the sharp relief of Bob Rock’s immaculate production, this can mean that the fuzz-toned guitars and crunching riffs are strenuously underlined: they are the foundation of this unusually rock-oriented 311 album yet in this crystal-clear atmosphere they drill, not pummel. This sonic crispness also means the vocals are particularly prominent and flat, and with every element retaining the same hyper-clear articulation, with each instrument and melody presented at a slightly skewed edge, Universal Pulse can be wearying even at its half-hour length.
AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine