At the time of the release of Ungdomskulen’s debut album “Cry baby,” (October 8th) we predicted that it was a record that would not go unnoticed. This is becoming true with international reviews pouring in.
Pitchforkmedia gives Cry baby a 7.7 on their Richter scale and have lots to say about the Norwegian trio, even if they haven’t quite grasped the meaning of the name. Ungdomskulen is Norwegian for junior high school and in western accents - and indeed din Norway’s second language “New Norwegian -” it is spelled with a ‘u’ towards the end, like in the band’s name, rather than with an ‘o’. So it is not a misspelling, as Pitchfork suggests, and it does not amount to a contrived instance of “adolescent scrawl” supposedly suggestive of the attitude of the band.
Not that there isn’t a lot of punk, and perhaps adolescence in the band. In a previous article we described the band thus:
“They come across as an amalgam of the instrumental mastery and structural intricacy of prog and jazz rock combined with the sheer snotty energy of punk. Here are clever on-off melodic strands and the droning infinities of everything that is “post.” And ‘post punk’ is indeed the label they apply themselves, along with terms like ‘progressive’ and ‘new wave’.”
More from Pitchfork on Cry baby:
“Ungdomskulen never departs from its power-trio line-up, meaning there are very few sounds on Cry-Baby that don't emanate either from drums, guitar, bass, and vox. Cry-Baby is just strings and skins, and by necessity, it's democratic, emphasizing each element equally while covering a lot of ground, from the pop melodies of "Feels Like Home" and "My Beautiful Blue Eyes" to the noisy crunch of, well, "Feels Like Home" and "My Beautiful Blue Eyes". These songs are all motion, mixing indie-rock lightning with heavy-metal thunder and revealing a belief in rock's spiritual powers: "I feel that your fills are real," Stockhaus tells a modern drummer on "Modern Drummer". "You fill up the void that we all have inside." On one level, their approach-- the musical equivalent of running "Serpentine!"-- seems to short-circuit any stab at seriousness, not that they're trying to be the Arcade Fire. But Ungdomskulen manage to rock sans irony, finding a certain freedom in adolescent arrest.”
“Ungdomskulen are doubtlessly exhausting, but they’re worth the effort.” (8/10 Eclipse
“Ungdomskulen have arrived to smudge the stereotype.” (4/5 Uncut)
“Intriguing, uncategorisable opening shot from Norwegian nutjobs.” (4/5 Kerrang)
“( ) relentless, reckless and original as Sonic Youth.” (7/10 NME)
Ungdomskulen have just returned to their hometown of Bergen after a nine-date November tour of the UK. And before that, in October, they played six gigs in the US, including the CMJ festival in NYC. Their web-site claims that they will be spending a lot of time in America next year. And six new January dates are already set.