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You Will Understand

Uphill Racer

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Album Review

First of all, You Will Understand is significantly better than No Need to Laugh, Uphill Racer's debut, which was not bad to start with. This second effort simply features better songs, in terms of both songwriting and arrangements. Also, Oliver Lichtl (the multi-instrumentalist behind this project) has gained better control over his voice. It is still soft-spoken and fragile, but now it sounds like a conscious choice, not something he was stuck with at birth. You Will Understand features ten songs, of which eight are of normal song duration and two qualify as extended pieces. Each song is a clever assemblage of usual instruments (guitar, bass, drums, piano) and electronic textures, including field recordings and bits of dialogue presumably lifted from movies. After a couple of listens, the latter tend to get in the way. However, that point aside, the album as a whole is finely balanced between accessibility and creativity. Most of Lichtl's songs have an immediate appeal. Tracks like "Spiral," "Fever Rush," and "Picture in Picture in Picture in One Pixel" will tend to run around inside your head after a short while. The ten-minute closer, "Jesus Was a Superhero But Then...," is something completely different: a rather static ambient piece with rain recordings, new agey keyboard patches, and ethereal vocals — quite anticlimactic for a finale, and not particularly interesting in itself. The songs sit on a multidirectional fence between intelligent pop music, the folk and singer/songwriter tradition, and modern electronica. Thom Yorke is an obvious reference point, mainly because of a certain similarity in approach and vocals, but in terms of creativity, Uphill Racer is better compared to the likes of Will Oldham or Patrick Watson. ~ François Couture, Rovi

You Will Understand, Uphill Racer
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