Second albums being notoriously difficult might be something of a cliché these days, but clichés wouldn’t exist if there wasn’t an element of truth to them. As such, Childhood’s decision to move away from the swirling psychedelia of their debut, towards the sleek, soul-inspired sounds of ‘Universal High’ is an interesting one.
Recorded in Atlanta, Georgia, across the Summer of 2016, the band’s new direction owes as much to the location it was recorded, as to the seventies soul from which it takes inspiration. From lead single ‘California Light’ to the eponymous ‘Universal High’, it’s immediately obvious that this is a record much more polished than its predecessor, and as a result, feels more much accessible also. As such, it struggles to take hold in the same way 2014’s ‘Lacuna’ did; its ten tracks gliding by in what’s a charming but ultimately fairly unmemorable 45 minutes.
Of course, there are a couple of stand-out moments. ‘Cameo’ is a wistful and dreamlike romp, while ‘Nothing Ever Seems Right’ eschews the soul for the most part in favour of channelling their inner Talking Heads. Unfortunately, with much of the record polished to a dull gleam, there’s little else that succeeds in rising above a pleasant but otherwise unremarkable album.
Words: Dave Beech
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