Law And Order - Ulysses (Black Glove Recordings)
Don’t judge a book by its cover or a band by its promo shot. They might look like wholefood bearded hipsters in their publicity materrial but even less than a considered listen to their third album “Law And Order” reveals there’s a quirky glam-pop heart beating within.
Ulysses hails from Bath in the middle of England’s West. Now, putting to one side generic Australian jokes that we love so much about Poms and soap, these blokes have been soaking in a tub of diverse influences. The bio cites The Cars, Thin Lizzy (especially), Alvin Stardust (check the label name - ha!), Hot Chocolate (huh?) and Supergrass (of course) but that’s just a start. You could toss in Alice Cooper, The Sweet, The Glitter Band - and a few dozen others.
This is an album that visits many places. “Song That Has To Be Sung” is a cruise in a yacht along the American West Coast before switching to raunchy dual guitar lead breaks. “Crazy Horses Ride The Snake” references The Osmonds song and “Dirty Weekend” is a jaunty glam stomper while “Mary Jane” is carnivalesque buzzsaw pop.
You’ve heard of Dad Rock? One listen to the “get up get up get up” line in “Yellow Sunshine #2” tells you that Ulysses are Dag Rock. This one's Barry Manilow in denim or The Darkness having a couple down at The Copacabana.
Produced by Steve Evans (Robert Plant/Siouxsie Sioux) and vocalist-guitarist Luke Smyth, “Law And Order” is the band’s third long-player. It shows. The band’s as tight as a Scotsman’s budget, and Smyth and guitarist Denny Peppers spark off each other nicely. Cock an ear to “Come On This City’s Gone” for evidence.
"Law And Order" doesn't sit as an "album" in the sense that many of us know the term. There's no thread or obvious theme running through it apart from a love of glam and a hankering for the '70s. All that stylistic jumping about can be disconcerting on first listen. But you know what? That's the way of the world now. People mostly buy music in digestible, compressed bit-sized pieces. If that's your style, go to your favourite online outlet and pick what you like.
The pithy summary would be that this is a record that’s “playfully English”. The blunt summary would be that they’re fucking with us by winding the clock back to 1975 and they’re pretty damn good at it. Not a record for the precious or pretentious.