Eagull’s soar above competition with “Ullages”

The British post-rock quintet’s sophomore release is as catchy as it is dreamy.



Maxwell Heilman, Writer

What makes post-punk inexorably fascinating is its balance of grandiose and intimate sensibilities. When done correctly, listeners hear musicians at their most vulnerable and empowered moments as they explore combinations of celestial ambience and driving rhythm. Western Yorkshire natives Eagulls give both ends of the spectrum room to breath on “Ullages,” producing some of the most emotionally inspired music in the genre.

Unwavering Rhythmic Execution

In contrast to their more ethereal counterparts, “Ullages” is unabashedly rooted in danceable rock grooves. One could connect the unwavering rhythmic execution to the norms of post-punk, but Henry Ruddel is no drum machine. His patterns are highly nuanced and noticeably muscular, making use of swaying six-eight feels, busy tom-tom rolls and tasty high-hat trickery as he heightens the dynamic and range of the songs. The sparse innovations found in every single arrangement Ruddel comes up with are irresistibly musical and contagious.

Similarly, Tom Kelly’s bass lines provide a low-end backbone which uniquely endows each song with specialized energy, as exemplified in “Skipping.” Kelly also gives each track an unprecedented amount of additional harmonic and melodic accessibility, as songs like “Aisles” are rooted in by bass while the guitars explore outer space. Both Kelly and Ruddel prevent Eagulls’ sound from stagnating, leaving a propulsive foundation over which more expansive sounds can flourish.

Undeniably Catchy

The arrangements presented by guitarists Mark Goldsworthy and Liam Matthews truly elevate “Ullages” above lesser bands in their genre. Glacial swells, intricate chord changes and melodic lines draw the listener in while giving them something undeniable catchy to which they can nod their heads. Whereas the shoegaze stylings of “Harpstrings” lull listeners with an immersive wall of guitar ambience, “Velvet” subsequently accentuates the dreamy atmosphere with shimmering alternate picking.

The wealth of textures the guitarists can choose from makes for a plethora of sonic ventures. The first two tracks, “Heads or Tails” and “Euphoria” do sport tendencies towards reverb-soaked noodling one could expect from Joy Division, but there is also a pervasively percussive quality to Goldsworthy and Matthew’s mid-range guitar lines. These Synthesized approaches give stability to their explorative musings, but this in no way diminishes the potency of their experimentation. “White Lie Lullabies” closes out “Ullages” with droney, seraphic strains that collapse into tumbling bass and drums. Eagulls takes from the best of multiple styles and creates a beautiful amalgamation that transcends genre boundaries.

Heartfelt Morosity

Singer George Mitchell soars over the top of these arrangements with heartfelt morosity and convincing musicality. His vocals do far more than evoke melancholy, because his voice is objectively great. “Blume” demonstrates the more commanding side of his delivery, but “My Life in Rewind” epitomizes his emotional quotient while displaying his knack for placing the right notes precisely where they need to be in order to accentuate the overall musical experience. No matter what choices he makes in terms of stylistic expression, his angst-ridden mentality makes itself known. With lyrics oozing esoteric gloom, Mitchell uses a broad palate of emotional vibes to give listeners impassioned accompaniment on his austere musings about the human experience. This results in angelic icing on a cake of riveting post-rock.

At the end of the day, “Ullages” is a feel-good record. For all of its dynamic and emotional diversity, this album still leaves listeners with a sense of fulfillment and genuine tranquility. Eagulls supplies a truly compelling exploration of the most admirable qualities of modern music’s more sublime developments.

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