Review Summary: The rubbish super-hero takes his alter ego to staggering, successful heights. That much is true.
Burial, referencing nature even by name, can’t seem to take design literally. First he gave us his self-titled debut, a homegrown left-field entry into 2006 that sedated a craving for the forgotten dubstep that we didn’t know we had. It was off handed and flawed, but the mark was left, a loose, tribal force of computers vs. jungle that couldn’t sit still. In a year and a half, the dubstep producer broadened the rusty metropolis of Burial
, softening the edges into the brooding atmosphere of Untrue
, an album that finds this self-proclaimed “rubbish super-hero” mingling into the obscurity of the underground club culture that doesn’t dwell on names or faces, but emotions and odds. And in finding the entangled roots that bound Burial
to the bustling city night life, Burial has livened Untrue
not only into a more familiar, uplifting plateau, but one that breathes organic life into his combated, technological ends.
In this aspect, Burial treats Untrue
like his own underground playground, shifting his focus without forgetting his goal. Treated as a lowly pickpocket, Burial takes loose odds and ends from others to build his collection of knick-knacks and garage noises, where bullet casings hitting concrete from Metal Gear Solid
and Vin Diesel’s keys make cameo appearances in samples. They’re just some of many small odes to detail that crowd the dusty corners of Untrue
without toppling it over. The product of the sexual centerpiece “Archangel” feels satisfying and absurd, fishing depth out of its woodblock percussion and grimy synths that work in Burial’s gloomy, longing lyricism (“Holding you– good at being alone/loving you– good at being alone/kissing you– tell me I belong/it's not why I trust you”). This apparent lust, which seems distilled in the album’s direct club influence, drives the crinkling tones to “Near Dark” and the drama drenched back-and-forth of feminine vocals in the drifting wisps of “Homeless.” It flirts with the crass piano to “In McDonalds,” which says more of its foggy locale than its hazy dialogue seems capable of.
But like many songs on the album, Burial handles their running time by letting them grow into themselves. The title-track, a makeshift home for garage noises and R&B hook that grooves into Burial’s processed vocals, handles its running time by fluctuating in tone and pace, clawing through patterns and shifts, while “Etched Headplate” grinds like a siren in slow motion, its slow monotone pacing more an effect than a cause of its feminine vocal force. “Dog Shelter” works as a spacey drone, one that could fill a stadium if given the time to expand, like the subdued, feminine coos to “Endorphin” that pull the sensuality right out from under its title. Burial's own self-acknowledging wink is all the more comfortable under the guise of the crackling buzz and dissonant vocal loops to a song entitled "Ghost Hardware," aptly detailing the attention to Burial's shadowy, personal presence and his reliance on electronics.
If taken as a glimpse into the seedy underbelly of London and its inhabitants, Untrue
ends up as one of the most refreshing releases of the year. Fortunately, it becomes more than that, and so much of the album clicks because of Burial's hunger for observation, for longing and need for emotion that it's hard not to get swept up in his optimistic outlook. The biggest problem with detractors is there inability to distinguish between Burial and his electronics, amounting to as misleading an insight to Untrue
as one can get: "Put on something more organic." Untrue
is nothing but.