Brooklyn-based psych-pop quartet, The Ugly Club (Ryan Eagan, Talor Mandel, Rick Su-Poi & Ryan McNulty), has perfected an ability to craft songs that straddle the line between gleaming, exuberant dance hits and infectious, complex garage-rock throwback jams. Since their 2012 full length, You Belong To The Minutes they have shown us that walking this walk is an art unto itself. Each track employs punchy lo-fi drums and blistering electric guitar hooks, lush, orchestral embellishments, and Egan’s retro drawling vocals stretched over top like a layer of hand-woven lace. The result makes us nostalgic for the NYC musical behemoths of yore, who provided soundtracks to our comings of age…Interpol, The Strokes, The Walkmen….sigh.
With their new single “Passengers” out and a video to accompany, we’re getting a sneak peak of a new direction toward which The Ugly Club is meandering. And ironically it’s quite pretty. Unlike what we’ve heard previously from the band, “Passengers” is defined first and foremost by sweltering synth melodies that nod reverently to late 70s new wave and mid 90s dance pop. Funky, slapping bass underpins, while Egan’s vocals are freer and more expressive than ever, suggesting that he’s arrived as an artist. Though this may be the danciest track we’ve heard from the band so far, the boys clearly have not forsaken their signature moodiness. At the end of the song a gritty, grinding electric guitar hook enters the fray, brilliantly mimicking an earlier synth/bass low end melody combo, and somehow manages to anchor the whole thing, as if to bring a hot air balloon back to earth. Throughout, the video shows Egan escaping from what appears to be quite the sinister predicament, winding through various rooms of an apartment like he’s finding his way out of a nightmarish maze. At the end–coincidentally or not, when that garage-y guitar line comes in, shaking the listener out of a disco dream–our protagonist is finally liberated from the moors of what was laying beneath the metaphorical surface. He emerges on a rooftop, for a late afternoon dance party.
Watch the great escape below Via Youtube. The Ugly Club will play Mexicali on 10/16.