ALBUM REVIEW: Vukovi – Fall Better
Photo Credit: Stephen Dewar
Big dirty riffs; we love ‘em! However, one problem with big dirty riffs is that you can sometimes find yourself unable to dance to them. Vukovi understand that problem, and with their latest album, Fall Better, gives you a mixture of big dirty riffs and dancey tunes.
Back for another bite of the cherry after their self-titled debut in 2017, Vukovi have tried a different strategy for Fall Better. First, they’ve learned to structure songs better, and asking “will these songs work live?”, which is a pretty good place to start, and the strategy pays off.
Starting off strong, the album moves from the tone setting intro of 17359 and takes an ominous turn, launching you into Violent Minds, opener and strong contender for album highlight. This song is about living with your demons and how they’ll never leave you. One thing that really stands out on this song is the pitch changes in Janine Shilstone’s voice. These changes apparently represent the inner demon. Violent Minds is a fantastic opener, and it’s pretty much a standard Vukovi song.
The combo of Janine Shilstone and guitarist Hamish Reilly has a lot of power, filling every available space. The overall sonic feel of the album is futuristic dystopia, think of running through a concrete jungle, bathed in neon, with rain lashing down as thunder rattles the sky. For those of you that are time poor and can’t give Vukovi half an hour of your day, that’s pretty much Fall Better in a sentence.
The album’s lyrical theme has been greatly informed by Shilstone’s Thought Action Fusion, a form of OCD that she was diagnosed with in between of the release of their self-titled debut and Fall Better, the album being her way of coming to terms with it.
Comparing Fall Better to the self-titled Vukovi, the difference is clear. Vukovi had its strong moments, but had tracks that you could take or leave. Every single the band have released so far from Fall Better has been a hit, with the album tracks bolstering an already strong proposition.
It’s hard to nail down a favourite in this album. Violent Minds throws its hat into the ring early, but as soon as you’ve heard C.L.A.U.D.I.A or Behave, you’ll be certain and think “maybe it’s All That Candy!”. The highlights are abundant in a consistently strong album and, as time goes by, you’ll find yourself listening to one song more than others, but it’s a real tossup as to which one resonates with you the most. In fact, forget the tracks listed above, it’s probably Play With Me ‘Cos I Can Take It. See! It’s impossible to pick a favourite.
A shout out to both of the band for Behave’s music video (check it out HERE), which is a brightly coloured and aesthetically pleasing affair, delivered entirely in sign language. Watch it, enjoy it, and you’ll learn a bit of sign language too! If you achieve nothing else in 2020, you’ll end up listening to and watching the video for Behave so much, you’ll be able to sign an entire Vukovi song. It’s also poppy as fuck, but with a big, dirty guitar sound backing it up. Imagine the Spice Girls, but they’re hella jacked. Behave might be the best song on the album purely by the virtue that it gets lodged in your head. The chorus is a proper pop hook, in that once it’s in there, it’ll never escape.
The frontperson is of course, the most important part of any band. With Janine Shilstone though, she’s the absolute centre of the song. Whilst the band’s arrangement, musicianship and creativity has moved to another level, you can’t help but feel another vocalist would get lost in the barrage of noise and colours. She is the perfect narrator to weather the storm that is Fall Better.
Splitting it in two, it’s a struggle working out whether side A or B is better. The ending quadrant of songs perfectly close out the album, with the incredibly heartfelt and soulful I’m Sorry offering something different to the full-force attack of the rest of the album. Written about saying goodbye to someone, the emotional delivery of the song is note perfect. Where Are You follows in the same vein of losing someone and wondering where they are. A proper ballad, and one you can see yourself screaming the chorus of in a sweaty hall at the end of a gig.
Vukovi’s self-titled album was good, but pales in comparison to Fall Better. Their second bite of the cherry represents a markedly improved band, writing songs that are just as comfortable filling venues as getting stuck in your ears. Towering riffs are mixed with pop hooks, and bouncy melodies are thrown together with dark lyrics to constantly wrong-foot you and keep you gripped.
Standout Tracks: Behave, C.L.A.U.D.I.A, Violent Minds
For Fans Of: Late-era Bring Me The Horizon (That’s The Spirit/amo), heavy af Spice Girls, big riffs
Written by: Oliver Butler