Bearcubs – Ultraviolet

Ultraviolet is a superb headtrip, with every snare and synth laboured over but if you spend enough time submerged in it, the edges sadly start to blur

Album Review by George Sully | 01 Mar 2018
  • Bearcubs – Ultraviolet
Album title: Ultraviolet
Artist: Bearcubs
Label: Platoon
Release date: 2 Mar

The latest from London’s trend of sombre, fogged-glass electronica, Bearcubs completes a year of underground EP hype with debut long player Ultraviolet.

It’s hard to gauge at what stage of this wave Jack Ritchie might be riding; there are moments on the album that sound fresh out of 2012, closer to SBTRKT’s eponymous debut, or the maudlin restraint of his oft-cited sonic neighbour James Blake ­­– leaving him half a decade behind. But these touchpoints, though frequent, are repackaged and reprocessed so skilfully – particularly on the nodding lurch of the opening title track – so as to place him right on top of the curve, if not ahead of it.

Electronic music is often about sampling and synthesising existing sounds or styles. So it’s not always a criticism that tracks like Do You Feel or Unfold sound like James Blake & Jamie xx collabs; Ritchie is taking that fuzzed, limescaled sound and (for the most part) turning it into something new. Particularly on the whistling Wolves: while its verses plunge deep underwater, its percussion-led bridges are more hip-hop than soul.

Unfortunately, if you spend enough time submerged in Ultraviolet, the edges between the tracks start to blur in the murk. It’s a superb headtrip, with every snare and synth laboured over to an absorbing degree. But it’s Bearcubs’ capacity for inventiveness, not his imitative production skill, that should have been exploited more here.

Listen to: Wolves, Ultraviolet