CD, Crazy Bear, 2008
“I’m an addict!,” wails Spanish band Ultraviolet’s singer, “Ultra,” in that annoyingly processed, pitch-control manner that Cher used so popularly in the late-90s. “I’m a junkie!,” he continues desperately, and I’m thinking uncharitable thoughts, drug addiction and trying to show off about how messed up you are being two major turn-offs for me. But “Addict” is nevertheless a good synthpop ballad, with a very contemporary mix of more distorted sounds over a delicate melody, and Ultraviolet can sing well as soon as the effects are reduced. “Dirty Club” has a suitably sleazy beat and dodgy heavy breathing vocals, but there is doubtless some good production at work here, especially in the powerful chorus. “Dey are de modern girls!” exclaims Ultra in charmingly imperfect English, lyrics that maybe should have been rethought, but the third track is another strong tune, with a triplet rock rhythm and some nice synth trickery.
With the strong, clear voice, the slightly southern blues rock feel to certain sections and the skilful use of distortion, it is inevitable that the synthpop masters Depeche Mode come to mind, which is an allegation pointed at many synthpop acts, but the similarities to their last album in particular are uncanny. Fortunately, “Crash” has more in common with German artists like Camouflage or De/Vision, with another emotive chorus, although slightly cheap dance influences are creeping in. “Rock Your Body” has some pretty awful lyrics, but is a well constructed little dance number with a subtle bass line, apart from the stopping at the chorus. “Back In The Room” has more Depeche Mode touches, with the high-pitched backing vocals and again that triplet rhythm, while “Thundering Beat” doesn’t really live up to its title, but does have another fairly decent chorus. The title track begins as another sweet ballad before growing into one of the heaviest sections of the album, with more sleazy lyrics, before “End” tricks us with silence, followed by a moodily ambient closing section.
So this is a pretty good album compared to many artists. Originality is always a problem in pop music, but at least Ultraviolet has taken some of the latest influences to use for its own ends, in quite an effective manner. Most people might well be able to forgive the sub-standard lyrics here, whether English accent or tacky clichés, but here is a strong voice that can compare well with the greats.
— Nathan Clemence