Vukovi have been highly praised by us, by their contemporaries, and by their fans. Their latest venture, a full-length album cleverly christened Fall Better, is bound to generate plenty more compliments. Powerful guitars and bone-shaking basslines stand behind beautiful lyrics, written by vocalist Janine Shilstone and inspired by her type of OCD.
The album is defiant, standing up to some of the bigger guys in rock music just as Shilstone stands up to her OCD. It’s a cultivated record too, highlighting just how much Vukovi have matured since their self-titled debut of 2017.
‘17359’ opens the album, bringing with it the clever theme of digitalised life as it introduces the listener to Fall Better. From here, Vukovi immediately immerses you in the upbeat tempo of ‘Violent Minds’. Janine Shilstone’s all-encompassing vocal is perhaps Vukovi’s signature asset. But behind that lurks the musical talent of Hamish Reilly. The effortless layering of synths over snarling guitars and pounding drums shapes this new Vukovi sound. And it’s definitely got us excited.
Even more refreshing than the opening track is ‘Aura’. It’s a lighter tune, showcasing the soft, caring side of the Northen duo. With lyrics including, “Don’t be scared, you’re not alone”, Shilstone is sure to empower her audience, conveying a feeling of community. Fall Better definitely keeps you on your toes; each track offers something different, and ‘Aura’ is much the same in that respect. It jumps from soft and sweet to snarling guitar riffs, it’s easy to visualise this track being played live.
In fact, that’s what Vukovi wanted of Fall Better. “It’s our intention that we could play every song from this album live”, Reilly explained. And we can assure you that yes, every track on the record will be killer live. Because Vukovi have grown and learnt a lot since their debut album.
Fall Better is paced brilliantly – no track has extended instrumental parts but are instead infused with danceable beats and catchy choruses. Yet, some songs remain a little cryptic. ‘Play with Me ‘Cos I Can Take It’ sounds awesome. The lyrics though, are just a little confusing, swaddled in metaphor. But we’ll forgive this because the song, like the 11 others on this new record, is brilliant fun.
‘All That Candy’ shows Shilstone’s true strength as she takes insults and turns them into killer lyrics. ‘I’m Sorry’ is more tender, a beautiful contrast to its successor. It carefully combines elements of melodic pop with powerful rock. It’s something Vukovi manage incredibly well and is perhaps one of the reasons they’re so highly praised.
And from the heartfelt yearning of ‘Where Are You’ comes the power of ‘I’m Sorry’. This track offers up a completely different feel, led by dance beats and dragging with it a depth of sound that is entirely new for Vukovi. The fun the Scottish duo had when recording shines through in every aspect here, from Shilstone’s commanding vocals working to draw you in, to Reilly’s digital elements adding depth.
Vukovi have served up 12 tracks of immense power with the release of Fall Better. Each one is better than the last, drumming up an excitement that pop-rock hasn’t managed much in recent years. There’s only one word to describe Vukovi’s latest venture – amazing.
Fall Better Is Released 24th January via VKVI Records