It's lucky [a]Ultrasound[/a] aren't comedians....
If last year [a]Ultrasound[/a] would have been hailed as saviours, this year they're struggling to cut it as disciples. For 1999 is not short of the cosmic or epic. With LPs either out or pending from The Flaming Lips, Mogwai, The Beta Band and Super Furry Animals, their timing couldn't be worse.
Besides, it's been so long coming, the point of it seems to have been lost somewhere along the way. When Tiny wailed, "Gary Glitter's gone to seed/Who will lead us now?" on last year's 'Stay Young' single, it was widely assumed he was volunteering. But apparently not. Recent interviews reveal a band with little left to say, and this LP arrives, agendaless and almost forgotten, pleading to be judged solely on its music.
The biggest surprise, then, is that for the most part it's just a straight rock album badly in need of some pruning. Part 'The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn', part '70s rock opera, it quickly shows that while Ultrasound are capable of the most grandiose, kitchen sink psyche-outs on earth, they're equally adept at being overwrought, histrionic and tedious to the point of stupefaction. Oh, and after about an hour Tiny's reedy whine really starts to become an acquired taste.
That's not to say that somewhere in here there isn't a brilliant single album fighting to get out. The opening barrage of 'Stay Young', 'Suckle' and 'Same Band' is a blitzkrieg of baroque psychedelia and droning pop melodies, but it's a pace the band can't keep up, largely because CD2 is such a mess. Haphazard and hideously overblown, it takes in Ukrainian folk ('Sentimental Song') and slight electro ('Aire And Calder'), before finally buckling under the weight of its excruciating 39-minute finale. It's doubtful whether you'll make it that far.
[a]Ultrasound[/a]'s record company think 'Everything Picture' is a record to rank alongside the debuts of the Pistols and Oasis, but they couldn't be further from the truth. Those groups were defining a zeitgeist - too often [a]Ultrasound[/a] are just filling up space. Late and far too long. It's not enough.
To read all our reviews first - days before they appear online - check out NME magazine, on sale every Wednesday