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(Southern Records)

The last time I heard from Ui was on their Lifelike release, which ironically enough was probably their most un-lifelike release to date. On that album, the group seemed to lock into an almost machinelike groove, and while it was interesting at times, it simply felt too antiseptic to do much for me in the long run. The group had the fortune of hitting the scene at nearly the same time as another little group named Tortoise, and has always seemingly drawn some comparisons to that group (mainly because they play a slightly similar style of instrumental post rock music).

Throw out most of those comparisons for now, though, because on Answers, Ui seems to have found their swerve again. With a double-pronged bass attack, the 13 tracks on this disc definitely don't lack in the groove department. Sometimes the melody gets sacrified on the altar of ass-shaking, but that's unfortunately how these sorts of things usually go. It's clear from the absolutely scorching first track of "Back Up" that the four-piece is in a different mindset than on their other releases. The track bubbles and scrapes, launching into things with a frenzy and moving with an almost math rock progression through a blistering middle passage that is one of the most rocking things that I've heard in quite awhile. The whole thing is over in two and a half minutes, and then they're onto the grunky low-end groove of "Get Hot, You Bum!" Bass strings literally sound like they're breaking at several points during the track, and it all swaggers with a nice dirty funk.

"Sunny Nights" changes things up a bit, mixing in a bit more interesting percussion and some scratchy electronics before the dueling basses slide in like butter and tango with one another. Unlike some of their other releases, the group also keeps things changing up in style as well as reigning in the running times of tracks a little more. The overall result is an album that's much more dynamic, even when they try something a little different like "Banjo" (tossing the title instrument into the mix), it comes through in the recording that they're having a lot of fun. Only "John Fitch Way" gets a little bit on the overlong side at six and a half minutes, but even that track is balanced out on each side with shorter barnburners (including the rollicking "Please Release Me"). In the end, it's an excellent instrumental rock disc with plenty of things thrown in the mix to keep things interesting. It seems that by just getting a little bit loose (as it should be with a two bass attack), Ui got back to the basics and in the process created an album that's great fun.

Rating: 7.75