Phantoms

UME (PHANTOMS)

“Rubicon,” the first track on Phantoms (Modern Outsider), the second album
 by the Austin rock trio Ume, sets the 
record’s tone with a ferocious, processed sound. It delivers a jolt to the senses, which is precisely the point. Formed in 2005 by 
the Houston couple Eric and Lauren Larson (on bass and guitar, respectively), the band created thunder from the word go. Ume 
lost ground when Lauren decided to pursue a Ph.D. in philosophy at Penn State, leaving an opening for at least one band, the Welsh sensation the Joy Formidable, to grab some attention with a very similar sound and image (both are cyclonic trios fronted by female guitarists). But academia didn’t take, so the Larsons moved to Austin, recruited a new drummer, and went back to work. Phantoms is self-produced, and the overcooked sound persists throughout, which 
is too bad; as good as they are at bringing the noise, it would be nice to hear Ume
 in a less artificial setting. On songs like “Rubicon,” “The Push,” and “Captive,” 
the production blurs the band’s strong 
melodies and Lauren’s riffing occasionally sidles dangerously close to Ozzy-metal parody. But the eighties-flavored post-punk assault isn’t the only thing going on here. Lauren’s arresting voice (reminiscent of 
the Cocteau Twins’ Elizabeth Fraser) has 
no trouble soaring above the din of her manic guitar prowess, and there’s none 
of the lyrical pretension you might expect from a former academic. Instead, Ume 
takes us on a 35-minute summer thrill ride.

Tags: UME, AUSTIN,

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