It’s been a year and a half since 2019’s ‘Cremator’, a collection of fuzz-laden altered dark states that produced a paranoid indie gothica. There were moments of pleasure between distorted scrawls, hits of Sonic Youth DNA. Vukovar know their way around a pop song, they just serve them in strips wrapped in dirt.
‘The Colossalist’ takes up that trajectory; the reduction of songs to their minimalist parts all spun out to their loosest connections, ethereal movements of Mary Chain feedback, moments of sweetness and horror. We are one part industrial, one part post-punk synthplay, and equal parts turmoil and fear.
White noise is a presence throughout. Either as the grit at the tip of the feedback, or as the main central sound of a song. The absence of silence frightening. ‘I’m Becoming Yourself’ has it strike through in waves against detuned pianos that haunt, and it’s the unnerving wash that masks the fragility of the mid album ‘A Dance Macabre’.
Elsewhere we find sketches, sonic palates of grit, where voices are happy folding in on themselves in lost murmurs of keys, synth and bass. Arpeggios chime and lose track of their steps in the mournful ‘End Of Life Delirium’, while ‘The Dark Backward And Abysm of Time’ is an Arthur Brown pshyche-out in black.
But between the bleak freakouts and moodboards, like a signature Vukovar trick, are the full-bodied gems of lost pop songs, lifted straight from a bootleg cassette.
‘Here Are Lions’ is the album’s first single, a drunk play of synthlines to a baritone voice with blunt drums crushed deep in the background. If a live Joy Division doesn’t come right to mind then your neural connectors need mending. ‘Vukovar (The Double Cross)’ could be a Tubeway Army demo with wonderfully loose subtle sway. It maintains its charm of long-lost bedroom indie right until it fragments and recoils. ‘Silent Envy’,’ In A Year Of 13 Moons’, all these songs show a focus Vukovar know how to keep when they’re not bent on bending our minds.
Death hangs heavy throughout, as does the unmeasured space just before it. This is grim nu-wave arthouse for the eyelinered masses with a beard stroking penchant for drama.