Urvanovic – ‘Amateurs’ album review

urvanovic band

A Scottish collective formed in 2012 as a result of frontman Tom Irvine’s composition projects at university, Urvanovic have already gained praise from the 405 and Clash and are now set to release their debut album, ‘Amateurs’.

Opening with an Animal Collective-style sense of fun, the album’s first track ‘Open Ground’ then throws in some Mimas-style riffs and a grand sound that is only improved by the dual vocals of Tom and his band colleague Seonald Stevenson – his broad Scottish accent and her impassioned, higher vocals just work so well together. As the strings are brought to the fore, Tom once again takes centre stage as he sings: ‘Settled in once more, hiding here in hope of worth’. There’s a lot of regret throughout the lyrics across the whole album but the majestic pop sensibilities work alongside these so well.

‘Bubblewrap’ has a more contemporary approach, bringing to mind Efterklang as plucked violins, distorted vocals and big, dirty bass unite to provide an anthemic slice of chamber pop. As it heads towards its climax, there is a genius moment where Tom’s vocals arrive out of one speaker and Seonald’s through the other. It’s a delightful sonic assault on the eardrums. ‘Think Fast’ opens with the lines: ‘Celebrate your own induction to worlds that only speak in beats and tunes’, which is the perfect introduction to Urvanovic. With its orchestral feel and self-referential subject matter, this is a personal song that recalls Dad Rocks! but also has some of the heart-breaking idiosyncratic elements of Teenage Fanclub.

‘Warrens’ offers a different take on the folk-pop aesthetic with its almost spoken-word intro and repeated chanted lyrics: ‘We hold out and find out we only light the way we mean to walk’, all amongst some delicate vocal interplay. Synth heavy but also drenched in strings and with added military drums, ‘The Mine’ has an attractively twinkly feel to it and very visceral lyrics, which again talk about the light: ‘And so the light is on you, forming dream-worthy shapes’. Closing the record is ‘The Worry Trail’, a personal and confessional song (‘I have left you here to start a war’) that starts subtly but then breaks into the spectacular finale the band have been dipping their toes into all along

Although it’s called ‘Amateurs’, this album is anything but. Ok, there’s a DIY ethic running through but the mixture of folk aesthetics, orchestral manoeuvres and post-rock elements mean Urvanovic have expertly provided something quite special…

Urvanovic’s ‘Amateurs’ is released on 15 June.

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