Small Bear records.

Surrounded by some mighty fine releases at the moment this here debut from Vukovar proving lately to be a frequent visitor to  those rare invite only turntable soirees that masquerade as the Sunday Experience sound nights. Vukovar are no strangers to these pages appearing on our radar over a year ago sporting the name Nero’s Felines, twelve months later and re-christened, they come packing under their collective arms one of the finest debuts in recent memory with core members Dan( of the Bordellos) and Rick (of Longdrone Flowers) making this something of a Small Bear label family affair (postcode personnel populate the ranks) and swelling the collective to nine.

As said appearing in earshot little over a year ago, ‘nero’s felines’ and its accompanying flip ‘lose my breath’ both feature here, the former shimmered in a ‘seamonsters’ era Wedding Present broodiness embarking on a mellowing country stroll with the much missed  Soft Parade, while the latter was a razor sharp brain blurring slab of tripped out psychosis that took its initial cue from a ‘doolittle’ era Pixies before freefalling into the corrupting hazy wilderness of the Walking Seeds’ lost classic ‘bad orb…..’. Also featured, in truth one of the early calls for single of the year, ‘the new world order’ is your jaw dropping dead gorgeous indie classic in waiting, as said in previous despatches, the finest 5 minutes of perfect pure pop not written by the Bunnymen that imagines some Ian Curtis headed dream ticket mindset merging of old school Joy Division with classic isolationist ‘power, corruption and lies’ era New Order replete with anthemic key swathes and trademark low strung bass grooving – if this doesn’t bother the top tier of Dandelion radio’s end of year festive 50 – questions will be asked.

Isolationist is perhaps the best way to describe ‘Emperor’, clearly it has its foot in a post punk / cold wave age, similarities to Left Hand’s ‘minus 8’ debut some 15 years ago are appreciably noted though that said while there’s a distinct retro vintage at work, Vukovar have sublimely dropped something that stands aside the wagon chasing latest fashion sound accessorising and plotted a path of their own crafting, a classically toned indie party pack whose reference markers skirt around aural pathways peppered by the likes of Decoration (especially on the bleakly stunning and hollowing hymnal ‘silent, almost sleeping’), Hillfields and Stephen Jones (in his Trucker guise as opposed to his more recognisable Babybird persona) the latter of whom is much recalled on the cosmically cooled ‘regular patrons of the kitty salon’. Somewhere else lurks the smoking and mellowing ghostly campfire cosy posy ‘part 1 – mrs karoda’s lament’ – a teasingly brief harmonically hushed sweetie that contrasts abruptly with the ripped and raw strut scowl of the garage gouged ‘concrete’. Those fancying their sounds somewhat couched in a lazy eyed twang shimmers that veer into the hallowed territories of the Devastations ought to tune into the acutely sparse bruiser ‘r’duced’ while the effervescently radiant ‘koen, cohen k’ comes kissed in the kind of astutely swaggering pop savvy that you suspect many a band would swiftly reconvene and after a hasty band meeting decide to retire considering job done.   

All said for us it’s the parting ‘the staircase’ that steals the set, a haunting slab of post punk psychotropia crookedly trimmed by a twin tracking spoken monologue atop a maddening sinisterly fried paranoiac iciness that chills with the creative edginess of an overlooked flip side or Peel session cut by Bauhaus re-mastered as were by Rooney. ‘Emperor’ comes as an eye catching limited edition hand-made CD a copy of which we’ll have to nail for posterity and total turntable love.

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