January 22, 2010

Uniform Motion – Life

Uniform Motion
Aaahh; 2010


Wispy-voiced, melancholy indie-folk has rather been all the rage the past few years. Some people decry such music as yet another death knell for “traditional” rock-n-roll, while others simply admit to not having the propensity to enjoying such mellow songs on a regular basis. I understand such complaints, as I too voiced them earlier in the decade, but somewhere along the way, I fell head-over-heels in love with the tunes being crafted by acts like The Shins, Fleet Foxes, Iron and Wine, Blind Pilot, A Weather, and anyone else culling the best and brightest sounds from ‘70s era arty folk-pop. There’s something quite attractive about the sort of music that compels you to sit down, rest, and get lost in the combination of contemplative tones and lyrics.

Hailing from the United Kingdom, Uniform Motion seeks to be included in the conversation with its newest release, entitled Life. I wanted work up a rather apt metaphor to describe the gentle, dreamy haze that characterizes this record: waking from sleep and a boat floating through a dense fog all came to mind. Yet, such word pictures fail to capture the demure delicacy at play with songs like “Back Up Your Soul” and “Oskar,” complete the precise arrangements and lovely harmonies. The entire record is reserved in tone, but you can always feel its presence. Musically, jazz-inflected fills and melodic runs on acoustic guitar flow and sway over an excellent, grounded batch of syncopated drums and percussion.

I do feel that the whispered vocals were a bit too monotonous at times, but not in a dry, dull way. It’s just that thin, hushed vocals can only be so expressive. Also, though I really do enjoy the pretty, enchanting tones of Life, I found that the music was quite content to sit in the background and chill, rather than step forward to be recognized. This eight-song record reminds me of the beautiful wallflower at some high school dance or college mixer who’s too shy to engage others directly, but whose obvious talents keep her interesting, if a bit mysterious (and slightly frustrating).

Personally, with music of this nature, I’m not looking for bands to increase volume or tempo in hopes of crafting a catchy pop hook. I just prefer to hear artists in this genre play with an urgency and immediacy that makes people sit up and take notice, despite how quiet things might be on the surface. Uniform Motion certainly has the songwriting and vocal chops to create a stellar batch of songs to match nearly anyone’s low-key, introspective mood. I simply would like to hear the band pen a piece that would also shake me out of that reverie and into action (even if it were to just share Life with an introverted friend).

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