Spiraling through atmospheric drone riffs and surf rock, Univers’ guitar melodies sound as if outer space were crashing into the ocean. The guttural vocals hold a strange Joy Division ‘80s vibe, but definitely sound like the droning omnipotence of the Universe itself. So, if you ever had one of those weird moments where it seemed like the universe was trying to communicate with you but you didn’t understand, maybe it’s because the universe speaks Catalan, like Univers. The band comes from Barcelona and their latest EP, called La Pedregada, is a nostalgic blend that perfectly conjures up the city’s dusty back rooms, beach side bars, botellones (the Spanish word for “street drinking”), and late, late nights.
The group began by playing small shows around Barcelona and posted a single on Bandcamp called “Para·lel,” which accrued attention fairly quickly. It’s interesting just to see what the niche for shoegaze is in Spain, considering how quickly fans and bands have embraced the label. The two most pervasive types of music in Spain are either Top 40s pop or heavy metal and punk. Univers’ popularity might be due to the fact that they provide a legitamite alternative that blends the best parts of both genres.
The EP’s opener, “La Pedregada” has all of the echo drenched, spacey and rhythmic shoegaze melancholy of the first, lyric-light single. Yet, most of the EP is pretty poppy. One of the standout tracks on is “Força de Gravetat,” which translates to “the force of gravity.” Most of the tunes have upbeat guitar riffs and droning vocals, but the song is all hooks and showcases the band at its catchiest. Overall, the five songs have more supernova color at meteor shower speed than you can shake a million outer space analogies at.
The group is a bit of an amalgamation of a few different Bomber Jacket friends. I discovered them after doing an article on the band Mujeres, which can be read here. The guitarists and backing vocalists for Univers, Yago Alcover, is also the lead of Mujeres. Catching Mujeres shows around Barcelona and at the excellent record shop, Luchador, eventually lead me to the venue Sidecar to catch the group by Chance. It was the type of glorious discovery that lets you know more good things are in store in the future. The group also appeared at Primavera Sound, the best indiefest in Europe, during one of the additional concert days. Univers also includes members from other excellent Barcelona bands: lead vocalist and guitarist Eduard Bujalance comes from Aliment and bassist Pau Lopez is the lead from Piñata!
Univers has also also teamed up with Famèlic, an independent collective from a suburb of Barcelona that helped mix the EP, which TBJ also previously highlighted here. The collective proundly proclaimed that Univers sounds like Stephin Merritt of The Magnetic Fields playing shoegaze if it was mixed by Phil Spector, which is a hilarious comparison.
If all works out, the EP could be a sign that the band has a future full-length album in the works.
Watch the video for “La Pedregada” below:[vimeo http://vimeo.com/54893616]