[sic] Magazine

Underground Railroad – White Night Stand

Having upped sticks from the city of love to the foreboding sprawl of London, Underground Railroad ‘s third LP White Night Stand seems, perhaps understandably, to be product of insomnia and urban paranoia. With a base of post-punk and Sonic Youth to draw from their previous outings, Marion Andrau , Raphael Mura and company now daub from a darker palette in which psyche, post-rock and acerbic reverb all mix to contribute to this the band’s most forward-thinking record yet.

Without question, the crunching percussion and eerie keyboard line found in “Lucky Duck”, along with the sinister reverberation of the opener “8 Millimetres”, catch the ear from the get-go. The latter’s infectious tambourine adds a certain bleary-eyed bounce to its deathly boogie, but, sadly, it’s a track that is possibly overlong – something that could be said a number of times during White Night Stand ‘s fifty-minute running time.

All the same, there’ll be few who’d cut anything from the 9+ minutes of the impressive “Seagull Attack”. Ranging from a shouty clatter to precision post-punk to hypnotic tom-tom abuse all the way through to becoming a heavy, repetitive, string-enhanced post-rock monster, its varied pace, intent and volume all totally crush the tail order, almost completely rendering the comparatively dazed “Traces To Nowhere” and “Rude Awakening” obsolete.

Ultimately smudging itself out into echoes and doing so with uncharacteristic voice digitalisation, the drum-heavy experiment “We Were Slumbering” introduces a prog-cum-post-rock feel that segues it into Oceansize country. The high-end guitar wails in “Ginkgo Biloba” reinforce this feel, its shadowy math-psyche running on otherwise unaffected.

Probably a surprise even to Underground Railroad themselves, “The Orchid’s Curse” seems to dabble in ominous, Black Sabbath -esque vocal echo and incantation, thinking latterly to throw up walls of feedback as an attempt to block them out. Entirely different, the strong single “Russian Doll” comes out of the traps fast and snarling. With an almost industrial edge to its onslaught, its jagged riffs snag and hold tight. A lighter reprise of that same sound, “Yellow Suit” then puts its teeth away, smothering psychedelic organ with dense reverb as it goes.

White Night Stand isn’t perfect. Sleep-deprived and skittish, it’s also overweight, patchy and scary. Yet, at the same time, it’s exhilarating, urgent and appealing as a result. What else to expect? Carrying on regardless – Londres, on t’aime.

Advised downloads: “Russian Doll” and “Seagull Attack”.

~White Night Stand is out June 13th 2011 on One Little Indian .~