Unicycle Loves You – The Dead Age

written by: June 20, 2014
Album-art-for-The-Dead-Age-by-Unicycle-Loves-You Release Date: June 10, 2014


Punk isn’t dead, but it’s bored out of its mind. Brooklyn trio Unicycle Loves You promises a peculiar record in its fourth LP The Dead Age with quirky song titles like “Suicide Pizza” and “Endless Bummer,” but delivers little more than predictable, mediocre punk rock.

The album artwork depicts a seagull-littered beach, neon pink and green cursive font, and a severed statue bust, but The Dead Age isn’t nearly as intriguing. The record quickly blends into any background, with a constant tempo and a blanket of fuzzy distortion enveloping the entire album.

The self-described “noise pop/psych punk” act limits itself by burying its vocals under blaring guitars, defiantly thick basslines, and primitively pounding drums, making most lyrics impossible to distinguish. Singer/guitarist Jim Carroll’s slurred, sloppy vocal performances further instruct listeners to focus on other elements. His vocal melodies are often doubled by his guitar (“JAWS,” “Grownups”), implying yet again that in ULY’s music, the vocals are no more important than guitar, bass, or drums.

Carroll’s only prominent vocal line on the album appears in the screeching punk anthem, “We Never Worry,” where he proudly calls, “If I knew now what I knew then/then I would learn what I don’t know!”

The intentionally vague lyrics indicate again that vocals are just another crude weapon in ULY’s punk rock arsenal.

An additional weapon is the nonstop barrage of descending, single-string guitar phrases that rubber stamp a majority of The Dead Age’s songs and inhibit them from having unique personalities (“Falling Off,” “Suicide Pizza,” “Face Tattoo,” “Bad News Club,” “Endless Bummer”).

One anomaly is the intoxicating, spacey waltz “Any Daydreaming Morning.” True to Unicycle form, vocals float faintly in the distance, but in this scenario they add ambience, helping rather than hurting. Carroll’s guitar solo consists of rapidly-repeated notes, performed with surprising precision and skill. At the end of “Any Daydreaming Morning,” noisy, off-putting feedback splashes icy water in listeners’ faces, waking them from the track’s hazy, relaxed atmosphere and back into the cold, harsh realities of a hum-drum punk record.

Another gem is the summery “Bad News Club,” which boasts a potent surf rock influence. The sunshine-soaked guitar solo that introduces the track is the most aware on the album, building up to the song’s main riff with keen pop sensibilities akin to the Clash.

Unfortunately, ULY forgoes the Clash’s compositional ambition; predictability is The Dead Age‘s greatest fault. Bassist Nicole Vitale’s lines thump along sufficiently, but not poignantly. Meanwhile, drummer Dennis Lehrer’s bombastic playing meets punk standards, but goes no further. Stagnant, unchanging guitar parts (“Falling Off,” “Endless Bummer”) and far-from-captivating solos (“Suicide Pizza,” “JAWS”) also help confirm The Dead Age‘s status as an unsurprising, typical punk record.

Standout “Face Tattoo” suggests a stylistic change, jumping in with a drum beat that could almost be considered “dancey,” but ULY’s thrashing guitars quickly make it clear that the trio’s punk rock core is immovable, even by their own experiments. At almost five minutes long, the track, like the whole of The Dead Age, doesn’t stay interesting enough to warrant its length.

Unicycle Loves You pairs atypical song titles (and band names) with typical music. Despite its varied influences, attempts at creative songwriting, and the couple of hidden treasures it harbors, The Dead Age is surprisingly forgettable.

Unicycle Loves You – The Dead Age tracklist:

  1. “Falling Off”
  2. “We Never Worry”
  3. “Suicide Pizza”
  4. “Silent Minus”
  5. “Face Tattoo”
  6. “JAWS”
  7. “Bad News Club”
  8. “Endless Bummer”
  9. “Any Daydreaming Morning”
  10. “Grownups”
  11. “X-ray Glaze”
  12. “The Dead Age”