The Universal 'The Outsiders'

At the heart of each sharp tune by Liverpool four piece The Universal, is a deep-seated love of classic vintage guitar music. The band, consisting of Terry Shaughnessy (singer/guitarist/songwriter), Piet Koehorst (lead guitarist), Dave Ormsby (drums) and Gary Chambers (bass) craft an unfussy take on classic rock. Their latest album The Outsiders isn't perfect by any means and some of the tracks last a tad too long. Although, you cannot deny the potential it contains flowing thinly beneath the surface.
As a listener, you hope to be engulfed by an opening number so explosive and mind-altering, that it makes you sizzle in your seat with anticipation for what's to come. Introductory If You Want It, issues out an offering that gives it a go but doesn't quite reach the level we had previously hoped for. Tapping into the same musical tissue as David Bowie's opening number The Next Day, punchy hooks appear to be this band's speciality. Moreover, the fade out effect leaves the song on an anticlimactic note, but for now we can dismiss that.
Putting aside the fact that the majority of the material featured on this particular album, feels like something we've heard before, there are some definite and fine highlights to be uncovered. Every Man For Himself revamps the sound we have become accustomed to with The Universal. It's a rare occurrence, but on this sonic track it really is quality over substance and the far out sound speaks for itself. If you're partial to a bit of Britpop, Hanging In Space is your jam. Reworking core elements of Blur's greatest hits, The Universal try them on, decide they like the fit and pass it off as vintage; surprisingly it works very satisfyingly.
By the time we reach eight track Superman, its a safe bet to say the latter half of this album is rad. Skip past the first half because, whilst some may find enjoyment in standard rock tunes - there really is nothing to see here (you've heard it all before). On Don't You Be Fooled, its clear their ability to pair wailing guitars with rapacious riffs and a stomp 'n' snarl mentality is like no other - it works in their favour.
Although, they draw too heavily on their influences, The Universal steer towards the finish line with This Is A War and The Outsiders. Contrasting dramatically, the title track is a stylish, mellow ballad. One, which allows Shaughnessy's vocals to croon over in a tender fashion. The Universal are a band who know what they're doing, however sometimes they stray and make tracks less anthemic and enduring than we'd initially expect. We can ignore the fact that sometimes songs last longer than need be, because what they lack in memorability, they make up for in raw energy and ambition. Nitpicking aside, The Outsiders is an album that proves The Universal achieved what they set out to accomplish; by our standards, they are very much insiders.
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