Sound — 7
The songs have a trance-hop presence and psychedelic rock compression with acid rock trajectory synths and vibrating guitars emblematic of fuzz rock artists like the Thievery Corporation and Zero 7. The duo of James Lavelle and Richard File who form Unkle both sing and play multiple instruments on this record while bringing out the talents of a number of other artists including The Cult's Ian Astbury's tomb-like vocal registers and acoustic guitar playing on Burn My Shadow and When Things Explode, Queens Of The Stone Age's Josh Homme's vocal grooves on Chemistry and Restless, Clayhill's Gavin Clark's sedate vocals on Keys To The Kingdom and Broken, the garage rock-tempered vocals of Leila Moss on May Day, the incorporeal vocals and lounging drums of Carla Azar on Person & Machinery, and the mellow out vocal delivery of Robert Del Naja on Twilight. The guests on the record give the impression that the music goes all over the place but the album keeps a strong consistency towards psychedelic rock, sometimes moving into a nu-gaze poshness on Hold My Hand or a prog rock coda on Morning Page. Unkle dabbles in space rock atmospheres on Twilight, neo folk aspects on Price To Pay, and stoner rock tides on Chemistry. The music is like a psychedelic trip with a bonus track filled with acid-soaked synths and electro-pop modulations that go on and on until a siren's wail brings the tune to a screeching halt.
Lyrics — 8
The lyrics have a spiritual essence like the track Burn My Shadow as Astbury projects in baritone vocals, I have burned my tomorrow/ And I stand inside today/ At the edge of the future/ And my dreams all fade awayFate's my destroyer/ I was ambushed by the light/ And you judged me once for falling/ This wounded heart arrives/ And burn my shadow away/ And burn my shadow awayWhen I see the light/ True love forever. The lyrics reflect on life's disenchantments and finds hope through the scorched feelings.
Overall Impression — 7
The music shows characteristics of art rock. Lavelle and File test their talents as composers by shaping music to fit different vocal styles and amalgamating electro-pop with psychedelic rock. The album which is produced by Chris Goss (Queens Of The Stone Age, Dessert Sessions, Masters Of Reality), is a collaborative effort that captures spontaneous turns in the flow of the songs like sudden tempo changes and interruptions that shift the chord progressions onto another plateau. Lavelle's and File's thinking for the changes are not obvious but take a while to adjust to them. The instruments meandering seem aimless but always find their way back to the focal point. The songs are intellectual pieces as much as they are pieces of club music. War Stories is Unkle's third album following their debut record Psyence Fiction and Never Never Land and utilizes analog sounds as well as electronic programming. It swirls, shakes, and hops from beginning to end like a transcendental drug trip.