Mr Universe has intrigued me with his laid back approach to rock because beneath the surface it’s clear much is at work. His debut album “Everything’s Good / It’s Not Working” shows off its two toned persona and it wears it on every track.
Mr Universe uses lazy Americana guitar riffs that when you break them down have actually a lot of complexity to them at times and the opener “Big Star Record” shows that off with guitar, occasional violin and some nifty amateur but not really synth work. Even down to the vocals, things sound like they’ve been bedroom brewed. It’s endearing and it carries its way through the album and shines in softer tracks like “Party For Bridget” where things have a country twang and feel a little more emotional because it has that live in the room feel to it. Textures you can touch. “You Got Away” was the single and it’s still as catchy as ever with its honky-tonk rock (minus the honk and tonk). It’s an indie pop gem in discovery.
There’s hints of cheesy disco synths behind the bedroom guitars and drums and with “You Say” they sound like they are playing an entirely different song to the foot stomping mid tempo jam Mr Universe is playing. There’s several instances of this across the album where the tempo of the oscillation of the synths panning around your ears is completely different to the tempo of the track. I’m still not sure what to make of it to be honest as it doesn’t benefit many of the tracks, yet feels almost trademark in places. More daring is “Be The One” which is a piano ballad that channels some inner T Rex. It’s a beautiful number and shows the songwriting capability of Mr Universe himself. Cheesy bossa nova drum machine loops return for “Because I Could” and showcases the other side of making chirpy yet defeatist pop rock.
“Go” is my other standout track here. It’s the lush rocker track with synths that work, strings that add depth and emotion and simple guitar chords that add the right amount of grunt to an autumn anthem. “Dear” shows off the slinky and darker side to drum machines and guitars, whereas “Goddamn” and “I’d Like to Say” showcase the lighter more acoustic and spacious side.
As a homemade bedroom affair, Mr Universe has done an awful lot with what he has. There’s some great tracks here and for those of us that enjoy homebrew bluesy rock, you’ll find plenty to love. Other’s may need to find a way to overlook some clashes of instruments and the lack of bass throughout the album to truly enjoy it. So to circle back round, intrigued and impressed, I’ll be keen to see how Mr Universe evolves from here as there’s a bundle of potential waiting to be realised.
Recommended Track : Go