If I could arrange it, I would slip a fortune into UHF singer Jeremy Leff’s next fortune cookie which would read, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!” Perhaps he wouldn’t instantly know what the fortune was getting at, but any listener of this fourth album from the Portland, Oregon natives would. Leff has a wonderful voice for psychedelic music: he has perfected the breathy, golden acid-drop whisper and the honey-slow chorus drone. Songs such as album opener “Disconnect”, “Rules of the Game”, and “The Behemoth” can instantly pull a willing listener into a world of glistening kaleidescope dreams. And, while there is nothing wrong with attempting something different, the problem is album tracks such as “The Behemoth” are hard to reach when faced with the juggernauts of “Battery” and “Revolving Door”.
“Battery” begins deceptively well…then Leff begins singing. Instantly, the song becomes choked in a sea of attempted machismo for which, frankly, the only word is “embarrassing.” Imagine a mediocre ’90s alternative voice over somewhat droney West-Coast pop. It just doesn’t work, and it’s baffling when a talented and experienced singer such as Leff can go so far astray. But just to prove this reviewer wrong, the vocals are also the problem on following track “Revolving Door”. While the sound doesn’t stray far from the band’s typical psychedelic feel, there is a razor-edge sharpness here which fits the unfortunate “dead inside” lyrics, but once again doesn’t align itself with the glossy ocean spray of the rest of UHF’s album. Actually, unfortunate lyrics surface frequently throughout the album, and with any other band, these iffy lines would be laughable and not much else; here, however, the worst lyrics are also proof of how tight this band actually is. During the best moments of All Our Golden Tomorrows, the words are virtually unnoticeable, because Leff’s voice is too busy combining with his fellow bandmates’ instruments to create a beautiful golden-purple synthesis.
The easiest thing to do with an album which contradicts itself, as this one does, is to merely label it as a “transition album” and wait for a more solid release from the band. Yet there are lovely tracks to be found here, songs which any pop music fan with retro sensibilities can enjoy. My advice to you, dear reader, is to attain a copy of the record and program out tracks two and three. While this will undoubtedly make the album far less eclectic than it was in its original condition, it will also make it far less frustrating.
Reviewed by Megan Giddings
This review is also posted on The Modern Pea Pod.