Album review: The Ugly Club “The Diamonds in the Rough”

text: Evie Saphire-Bernstein

There are a lot of songs on the Ugly Club’s new album that are self indulgent. That’s not to say the music isn’t good, just that the music is more about the band than the listener. Psychedelic rock is a term used often when describing this band, and most of the songs on You Belong To The Minutes fit neatly under that label but there are flashes of beauty, heart, and brilliance here and there, and those glimpses of greatness will make the listener overlook the rest.

First the bad. Most of the songs on this album are indistinguishable from one another. This band certainly knows how to use their instruments, but they structure their songs so similarly that it’s hard to tell where one song ends and another begins. The general feeling is that of an indie rock band with jazz leanings, and psychedelic influences, however, the incessant reverb is not a friend to the listener, and it is more likely to induce headaches than happiness.

Where the band really lets the listener down is through the lyrics, and more specifically, the dearth of emotion. Most of the songs on this album do not convey much emotion, whether it be pain, joy, excitement, or sadness. “Unraveling You”, “You Belong to the Minutes”, and “Let’s Sleep Around” are wasted efforts; attempts to sound different that end up sounding monotonously alike.

But here’s the good, and it’s important. ‘How Many Summers Do We Have Left’ is one of the most heartfelt songs I have ever heard. Here is the emotion so noticeably absent in the other songs. With shades of Jackson Browne, the Ugly Club strips it down to a vocal and a guitar, and the vocals, lyrics, and music come together to create an haunting homage to lost love–the lyrics, “Some conversation melts in the rain, and I hope to see you again” – follow you long after the song is over. “Loosen Up” is also great–it has a good riff, a good beat, and lyrics with some meat. The song is having fun, and so is the listener.  ‘Under the Great Wave’ is pretty, thoughtful, and sincere. It has hidden heart inside it as well.

In the end? It took a lot of shifting through, but there is beauty here, and that beauty is worth the struggle it took to find it. This beauty we speak of, it shines brighter than the lackluster songs it hides behind.