Nothing But Thieves
Lille Vega, Copenhagen, DEN - 23/11
Journey Into The Unknown EP
Written by: DR on 24/02/2010 03:55:43
It's nearly 1am; I can't sleep. And I know that you're all on the edge of your seats waiting to find out why: I have a headache. Not a particularly bad one, either; most people, people who aren't wimps, would simply get on with whatever it is they have to get on with. Sleep, probably? My headache is a sly one, as he seems to be double-teaming me with that bastard insomnia. After swallowing a handful of pills which I hoped to aspirin, I still could not sleep. What do I do? Why, a review of course! What to choose, though? Due to my handicap, anything heavy or pounding is out of the window, as is anything that requires too much thinking. I need light, fluffy and fun, and that leads me to Useless Education.
How do I start to explain their poppy sound without using words like "hooks", "girls" and "infectious". UE is the 21st century music-equivalent to a teenage girl writing "I love Billy" in the back of their mathbook... a teenage girl writing "I <3 Billy" on their Facebook, maybe? Funnily enough, they wrote a song all about computer love called "Electronically Speaking". For that song their vocalist Joel Jones dons electronic vocal effects whilst singing such lyrics as "I am your less than, and you are my three three heart." He then goes on to sing about processors, email, mp3s, Myspace, you get the idea. You may be tempted to laugh, on first listen I did, but their slightly odd, and shameless, take on cyber-love is destined to make you smile. But as an opening song, it's deceptive in terms of their general sound.
They aren't all about the keyboards and those vocal effects non-talented pop-stars use when they can't actual play an instrument or hit a note - these guys are surprisingly talented, enough to attract more than your average powerpop fan, at least. Though they're a little minimalistic on the instrumental side of things, and not quite shy enough about using the beeping and programming, that is all forgotten once they start to sing. Their duel-vocals work well together, one of the duo is in possession of a more "friendly" baritone voice, and as a result he is the main singer. To use a British cliché, the other vocalist Steven Kaminski has what we would label call a "Marmite" voice. One you'd either love, or hate. Personally, I assuage myself with the former category as I can't get enough of his wailing on "To My Girl" and "Journey Into The Unknown", however, I would understand if someone was to be put off by how very high-pitched he is - which is enough to make Vic Fuentes' singing seem almost manly.
The main reason that many will use to repel Useless Education is the reason that many will endear themselves to them, and that's because the vocals are the key component. The lyrics aren't inspiring or thematically original. The musicianship is there - that's the most that can really be said about it; the compositions are kept fairly simple and act just as a platform for the alchemy between Kaminski and Jones. "To My Girl" and "Journey Into The Unknown" are a good representation of Useless Education at their best, but this EP as a whole is a guilty pleasure waiting to be discovered, discreetly, of course.
Download: To My Girl; Journey Into The Unknown
For The Fans of: Hellogoodbye; The Higher; Owl City
Release Date 26.1.2010
** UNSIGNED BAND **