I spent the first two minutes of Univox’s self-titled debut LP thinking they’d be the next Mclusky. “Pi” is such a screaming, rip-roaring bit of self-aware fury that I was actually bracing myself for the 11 tracks that would follow it. Imagine my surprise, then, to hear shades of Joy Division, Lou Reed, Iggy Pop, and just about every independent post-punk act from the early ‘80s in those songs instead. Largely (though not always) led by the capable, expressive baritone of Joseph Bonaventura III, Univox will take listeners back to the days when they were so over the Sex Pistols but hadn’t quite found R.E.M. The Univox spin on this is that they perform their homage to the era with such a taste for variety that they carve out their very own niche. After all, it’s not many bands that could put something like the aforementioned “Pi” on the same album as the contemplative “You Don’t Know”, the country-leaning “Cannonball”, and the bizarre jaunt into a cappella called “All This Blood Came from My Heart”. Self-loathing has rarely sounded so energetic. It’s the kind of album too derivative to get a fair shake from the general public, but well-executed enough to be treasured by those who find it. In other words, a fine debut.
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