Ultranoir – Suffer no fiction / Reach me, Helen Keller

Early 2005 I stumbled on the homepage of Ultranoir, a Finnish synth-pop group. The online songs I heard sounded quite promising. Later that year they also made it to part 3 of the acclaimed compilation series ‘New Dark Age’. Recently Ultranoir released their debut album “Suffer No Fiction”, preceded by the single Single ‘Reach Me, Helen Keller’.

Ultranoir’s music clearly takes consideration of the musical past. Their sound is a mixture of new romantic, synth pop, & goth rock. The Cure, Depeche Mode, New Order are some of the obvious references. “Suffer No Fiction” also has a nostalgic length, with 10 tracks in 46 minutes, which I prefer over cramming your cd with all the half-finished material you’ve got. The artwork and promo photos of the young band look stylish in elegant, black and red.

The songs of Ultranoir are quite easy to get into, they’re usually melodic and not very complicated. Uptempo, poppy songs are mixed with slower, gloomy pieces. Especially the lighter, danceable tunes are quite nice to listen to, though a bit predictable. Examples are ‘Angst macht frei’ and ‘Petals’. The slow songs like ‘Schoolboy and ‘Frontline fractures’ often sound a bit tiresome, dragging unto the end without getting to a point. The singer tries too hard to sound ’emotional’, sometimes coming across a bit pathetic (and out of tune). All in all the album does not exceed the label ‘promising’, there are too few original compositions. If Ultranoir would put some more guts and energy in their songs, they could be much better.

With the single ‘Reach Me, Helen Keller’ taken from this album, they made it into the offical Finnish charts. That does not surprise me, because it’s an attractive, catchy synth tune. It’s backed on the cd-single by two non-album tracks. ‘Dismember Me’ is a bit of an anonymous midtempo wave track, while ‘Too Late Anyhow’ has a slow threatening sound with prominent percussion, which has its merits.

artist: Ultranoir
label: Quiet Life Records
details: cd, 10 tracks, 2006 [quiet 2]
mcd, 4 tracks, 2006 [quiet 1]