Classic Album Review

“Small Grey Man” by Uranium Club

One of my favorite weird bands is coming out with another weird album.

The Minneapolis Uranium Club, known also as simply Uranium Club, are a four-piece band operating out of Minneapolis.

Most of Uranium Club’s songs sound like if someone gave a gnome a journal and then introduced it to existential angst and avant garde film.

Distinctly DEVO-esque, this (egg punk?) band defines itself by an eclectic, twangy style that straddles the line between new wave and punk.

The band got their start in 2016 with their first album, an originally cassette-only release titled “Human Exploration.”

Cover for “Human Exploration” by Uranium Club

It’s a great album. The tracks are jaunty and entrancing and the lyrics are weird, abstract and occasionally pretentious (though decidedly self-aware). It’s the kind of music best suited for late-night basement shows or long, manic drives.

The band’s recent announcement of their upcoming fifth album, as well as the release of the album’s first track, tacks on another element of excitement and intrigue.

“Infants Under the Bulb”

The band’s upcoming album, “Infants Under the Bulb,” will hit the airwaves on March 1.

According to the band, the album “…opens up the history books of unsolved mysteries – unidentified, unsolved, unanswered subjects of suspicious acts or individuals across the last century” to ask the questions “Who, what, when and where… but mostly, why?”

The band references several unsolved cases, such as the mysterious deaths of the Somerton Man and Peter Bergmann (content warning: postmortem photos) as well as the strange circumstances of Jean-Dominique Bauby, a man who wrote an entire manuscript while experiencing locked-in syndrome.

Details from these cases, apparently, will imbue the contents of the album.

“Small Grey Man”

The theme of “strange phenomena” is compelling, especially with the band’s track record for tongue-in-cheek humor and witty prose. A taste of this theme can be seen in “Small Grey Man,” the first track of “Infants Under the Bulb,” which came out as a single on January 18.

Like a spoken-word poem, the bizarre lyrics reference both the Somerton Man and Peter Bergmann (both the actor and corpse). Wordplay, entendre and fantasy come together to capture the incongruous sensation of stumbling upon an unsolved mystery and being left with questions forever unanswered.

Cover for “All Of Them Naturals” by Uranium Club

Throughout the song, the speaker’s identity appears to shift as he imagines himself as the two men, speculating that they were spies who found themselves as corpses upon the beach — perhaps murdered, perhaps victims of suicide — due to a strange twist of fate. The ambiguity of their circumstances and the mystery surrounding their identities rings out as the speaker questions, “What’s your name?” and “Who are you?”

If there’s so much apparent depth to just a single song on the album, I can’t wait to explore the other ten.

Here’s the official tracklist:

1. “Small Grey Man”
2. “Viewers Like You
3. “Game Show”
4. “The Wall Pts.1&2”
5. “Tokyo Paris L.A. Milan”
6. “The Wall Pt.3”
7. “2-600-LULLABY”
8. “Abandoned By The Narrator”
9. “The Ascent”
10. “Big Guitar Jack– In The Sky”
11. “The Wall Pt.4”

By J

J is a DJ at WKNC and a staunch enjoyer of dark and moody music.