Where Did the Night Fall (Another Night Out)

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Doing away with any preconceived notions, UNKLE changed things up drastically for their fourth official album. With Richard File out of the picture and Pablo Clements picking up the reins as James Lavelle's sideman, the duo leaves trip-hop and digitally skewed breakbeats at the wayside. As a substitute, the new incarnation goes the band route, using primarily live instrumentation and a garage rock/psych pop sonic palette. Those who followed UNKLE after the breakout success of Psyence Fiction will be familiar with Lavelle's inclinations to try to rock in a post-Spooky world, which usually led him down a road of mediocre results, but where War Stories fused electronic aspects with saturated stoner rock, Where Did the Night Fall is a focused production of thick, heavily orchestrated Brit-rock, along the lines of Clinic and Muse. Per usual, vocalists take turns, phoning in from their respective area codes, and Autolux, Mark Lanegan, Elle. J, Big in Japan, Sleepy Sun, and the Black Angels turn in excellent performances. Even so, the studio band of Joel Cadbury, James Griffith, Matthew Pierce, and drummers Graham Fox and White Denim's Josh Block (among others, including the Heritage Orchestra) steal the show. The songs feel less flawed than previous experiments, with a unified vibe due to the eerie cement-wall production that overlays everything. No hip-hop MC detours. No dodgy instrumentals. Just groovy fuzz basslines, wayward drumming, chugging guitars, pulsing organs, and echoey vocals sung over minor chords that give way to tense, white-hot hooks. It’s an explicit leap into new territory for the band, and though the second half may drag a bit, songs like “Natural Selection,” “Joy Factory,” "The Answer," and “On a Wire” make for some of UNKLE’s all-time best singles, ones that rank right up there with “Rabbit in Your Headlights” and “Lonely Soul.”

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