Oops – armed with an arsenal of sparkling electronics and a sharp bite of attitude, it seems VUKOVI have cracked it once again. Third album ‘NULA’ is a burst of euphoria-drenched empowerment, transforming pain into something glorious; touching on themes of depression, obsession and sexual freedom, the Scottish duo are dead-set on liberating their listeners one synth-rock banger at a time. Fizzling with electricity, ‘NULA’ is a total triumph – so get strapped in.
Over the years, VUKOVI have proven time and time again that they are an unbeatable live act, and ‘NULA’ serves up a smorgasbord of delectable hard-hitters. Stand-out ‘LASSO’ absolutely riles with energy, slick, star-studded instrumentals rumbling on-track as it unravels the dark realities of idol worship. ‘QUENCH’s cry for sexual liberation soars, cunningly enticing you to howl along, while ‘TAINTED’ is undeniable moshpit bait – who can resist a chorus of quick, breathless drums?
VUKOVI’s natural thirst for movement is infectious, and ‘NULA’s strength lies when this is filtered into more emotive topics. VUKOVI turn each track into a celebration, resulting in bittersweet anthems like ‘I EXIST’; while the song delves into the depths of depression, every element shimmers, the uplifting pop-rock turning to glitter in your veins. Similarly, ‘SLO’s exploration of OCD is ethereal and a total crowd-pleaser, Janine Shilstone’s gorgeous vocals melding into the glistening soundscapes.
Speaking of – Shilstone’s vocals cannot be understated. While we all love VUKOVI’s dirty riffs, Shilstone’s impassioned vocals truly allow the duo to stand head-and-shoulders above the rest. ‘SAD’ takes a more stripped back approach, yet still manages to feel like one of the album’s highlights thanks to Shilstone’s enchanting performance. The instrumentals feel detached, almost drowning underwater as the raw vocals take front and centre. It’s vulnerable, it’s poignant and it’s definitely special.
One thing we’ve not touched on yet is the conceptual element at play; ‘NULA’s sonic journey reflects the struggles of titular character Nula. The concept follows Nula’s attempts to escape a human testing facility onboard a distant space-ship, and VUKOVI have entirely nailed that sense of progression. Opening with a domineering, robotic voiceover and ending on Shilstone’s voiceover for ‘XX’ truly exemplifies the record’s message of re-claiming control. Surreal, sci-fi infused interludes also reinforce the album’s alien nature, while ‘KILL IT’ and ‘SLO’ also incorporate some synthetic brilliance on track, keeping in with the theme. However, you are left with a touch of yearning – those otherworldly inflections are fabulous, and it would have amped up the immersion if more were sprinkled throughout.
Conceptually enticing, cohesive and filled-to-the-brim with bangers, ‘NULA’ is VUKOVI at their best. The Scots know how to pen an anthem, and this album is overflowing with them. Delightful in every way, ‘NULA’ is an album you definitely don’t want to miss out on – might we say it’s ‘out of this world’?
Words: Emily Swingle