Villebråd – Ultrarapid

Villebråd - Ultrarapid

Villebråd - Ultrarapid

Swedish band Villebråd relive the highs and lows of 1980’s British pop and post-punk on their new release, Ultrarapid. The revival of that musical era actually kicked off at least 10 years ago, but because Villebråd stay so true to the original, the band doesn’t fit in with their counterparts such as The Strokes or The Killers.

Villebråd sounds truer because the members love synths, emotive crooning, and they uncover a few subtleties of that bygone musical era. And, whereas a band like The Killers emphasizes the dub and disco side of post-punk, Villebråd is heavy on the Krautrock influences.

As with all musical trends, more mediocrity than greatness emerged from that scene and, unfortunately, Villebråd remind us of that. But the album’s biggest failing is that songs are too long. “Du är svag”, for example, eventually brings together all the synths, rhythms, vocals, and guitar effects; but rather than end on a high note, the band indulges in needless, multiple part changes. Several decent songs on Ultrarapid are marred by such indulgence. “Feberdröm” runs through a tight, clean, and efficient bit of pop, but then breaks down needlessly only to rebuild to what it was. This would be a perfectly solid song at 2 and half minutes, but it instead dies slowly and painfully over four and a half. Same goes for “Vaknar aldrig”; this well orchestrated and executed post-punk track wears out its welcome, goes too heavy on the synths, and commits the ultimate sin–it gets boring.

But songs like “Älskade maskin”, “Ljus från innanmätet”, and title track “Ultrarapid” survive and sparkle. “Älskade maskin” starts with a dark 007 feel, then navigates successfully through a number of effects and  tempo changes This song was crafted with admirable effort. Here, the many changes lend the song a sense of direction. “Ljus från innanmätet” adds more pop to the post-punk motif, and works despite an awkward part change and superfluous outro. The album’s title track, “Ultrarapid”, finds a renewed post-punk energy, relaying a head bobbing rhythm under excellent bass work, and pulls off an extended instrumental exercise that would be dead in the water elsewhere on the album.

Really, only the first, last, and instrumental track “Amerika” are totally wasted. Otherwise, Villebråd time and again displays an attention to sound and song craft that’s rare. Layers appear with subtlety, sonic accents add light and color, and instruments are played with admirable skill. And even the crooned vocals (sung in Swedish), while occasionally off the mark, work well over the band’s smoothly sanded post-punk textures.

If right now I was in the mood for a little 80’s British rock and post-punk revival, I’d go to Villebråd.

Record Heaven
Transubstans Records