The sound of URF‘s debut EP is as satisfying as the band’s name. The punning colloquialised portmanteau of Ur, hinting at something primal and original, and Earth, being both something spacey and, quite literally, grounded. As a callback to the drone/post-rock American group, Earth, and Black Sabbath who also went under the moniker, it’s a good indicator of what the band will bring too – combining a sound that draws from shoegaze, ’90s indie, post-punk and psych, but with their own shiny new twist.
For The Ride’s opener, ‘Say You Don’t Mind’, starts things off with a spectral but bassy guitar, before lead singer Abbi Parcell comes on all Liz Fraser with soft, almost whispered vocals. But there’s nothing soft about the song’s chorus which explodes with a My Bloody Valentine swoop into crunching guitar. Dry synths courtesy of Sophie Erasmus haunt the track, reeling the listener into the whirlwind of a chorus, at which point Abbi’s vocals become yelps as Jack Brigg’s drums crash around them and the guitars become more sinister. At its close, the synths rise to the fore, drawing sharply from the chaos.
‘Night Driving’ has a more standard Britpop chug feel, particularly in the driving chords of its chorus and the picked guitar solo of its middle-eight. There’s more than a nod to Siouxsie Sioux in Abbi’s vocal style and, with a chorus that leans like Suede running into Hole, there’s a feel of an alt.rock trip on the cold night roads of a Northern town. That is, before the track’s final minute leaps into a flurry of percussion, as though the drive has come to a firey end.
The cinematic finish leads perfectly to closer and title track, ‘For the Ride’, which opens with a balladic guitar, and just a hint of a Western feel from lead guitarist Scott Woodcock. It’s a sombre, brooding opening, over which Abbi’s vocals mourn and flow into a banshee wail. The song builds from a post-rock epic that starts at a canter, before picking up the pace to full-rock gallop four minutes in, and taking no prisoners with an emphatic, shoegaze-meets-desert-rock-meets-psych steeplechase for its final 90 seconds.
The Manchester five-piece only released their first single ‘Athena’ in August last year, but already seem to have carved a niche within the ever-growing UK psych scene. For the Ride is the distillation of a number of wide-ranging influences, but crucially the band haven’t let those influences over-ride the scope of their ambition. Creepy, epic, rocking and melancholic, the three tracks show off the breath-taking potential and indicate that URF are ready to put together something truly elemental.
For The Ride is out now.