To: Alabama English Department Listserv
From: Commissioner Oliu
Subject: UAEDFL Sings!!
The football metaphor has become a refuge for idiosyncratic bands and singer-songwriters such as Ten Yard Fight, Billy Bragg, and American Football. But even within this growing category, the University of Alabama’s UAEDFL stands out as uncategorizable. They define themselves by their quirks: their songs are too dark and sensuous to be declared precious, take their convoluted metaphors a step or two too far at times, and their prose-poem lyrics often create verse lines with odd, sometimes amelodic meters.
In general, UAEDFL dances with the bristle of intensity and arty angular grit seen only in early forms of melancholic melodically inclined punk bands that ushered in the punk to new wave transition of the late 1970s. In this regard, UAEDFL’s debut EP, Love Songs About Town which found itself on various year-end lists and magazine covers was a powerful cathedral of enormity and melodrama, defiantly sentimental on some listens, paper-thin and of palpable texture on some days when riding your modified bicycle to the art museum; a transitory record if anything, one that was meant to be heard through headphones while on your way to a Takashi Murakami retrospective installation.
In direct contrast, their newest album, UAEDFL Sings!! abandons the “Superflat” techniques that had grown synonymous with the band in favor of a more Nihonga style; a reverse parabola of the aforementioned Japanese fine-arts master.
Album opener “The Middle Should Be Wide Open” shares the sense of theatricality present in the debut, with a choir of voices swelling to a heaven-scraping pomp before giving in to acoustic guitar arpeggios and chiming bell tones. The lyrics, sung in a quavering choirboy technique are sadly deft, “If you run to the corner/and I run straight ahead/the middle should be wide open,” conjuring up images of monogamous desire, which, regrettably, seem banal next to the whispered, anchorless prosaic observations of songs such as “Watch The Blitz,” which would only count as rave-ups at some secret librarian party held on a monastery’s roof. Gone are UAEDFL’s intertexuality and pastiche, that seemed kind of innocent and imaginative − groping less for cultural capital than for sustenance and the movement of bodies. Instead, they are replaced with boastings of je nais se quoi; a cathartic Jeff Buckley caterwaul that would shake the most brazen veggie-burrito-eaters and their schizophrenic record collections.
UAEDFL are clearly proud to have made a record as drone heavy as a swarm of wet hornets, but it is obvious that if this album was released four years ago, at a different time of month, perhaps, this album would be a new love, but with the success of such acts as Animal Collective and Panda Bear, by now, it’s a well-rehearsed, consistent climax that sports a stunning teardown and subsequent buildup that fail to offer a game-changing evolution and instead relies solely on UAEDFL’s once indelible fingerprint.
In the context of these missing cinematic moments of innocent fervor, one may suggest that UAEDFL revisit the live performances that defined their early careers and will undoubtedly rekindle those lusty eruptions of which they fervently held onto in the near past, most notably:
Queen City/15th Street Park
− The Commissioner