311
Universal Pulse


2.5
average

Review

by telebyrd USER (1 Reviews)
July 19th, 2011 | 24 replies


Release Date: 2011 | Tracklist

Review Summary: It seems as though that album art is compensating for something.

It’s that time again, huh" It has been almost exactly 2 years since 311’s most recent effort. Universal Pulse (the Omaha natives’ 10th Studio album in 18 years) is the newest byproduct of a tried-and-true formula that combines a feel-good, reggae dub with some crunchy four-chord riffs and a solid rhythm section. At this point, it’s safe to say that 311 is no longer the band we fell in love with and continued to love into the early 2000’s.

Clocking in at less than 30 minutes, Universal Pulse is a quick listen. The album art is gaudy and psychedelic, which is in no way indicative of the album's tone. Experimentation of any variety is unheard of here. I don’t think 311 ever jumps out of 4/4 on this album, and the guitars feature a same-y, fuzzy tone on each track, which we’ve come to expect.

The standout performances here come from P-Nut and SA Martinez. SA’s harmonies are top notch, much improved from his earlier career. Martinez avoids awkward rap sections on Universal Pulse, which saves the listener from a smattering of cringes (see Transistor). While popping, slapping funk bass used to be more prevalent in their mix, it can still be heard on Universal Pulse. P-Nut’s rock-solid plucking helps to push these by-the-numbers riffs along. This consistency lends a familiar, upbeat quality to Universal Pulse.

Dear Chad Sexton, how’s that new prescription of Ambien" Seriously though, the drumming here is way below par. It’s not that Sexton is sloppy or lethargic - his drumming is technically sound (and then some). Chad is in the pocket, tight as ever, but the innovation has curled up and died. Spectacular fills and bombast are mourned and missed.

The guitars are nothing special either. I assume Mahoney laid everything down in studio. Mahoney’s solos seem as if they were tracked with the distinct purpose of lowering the bar, that he may melt faces during a live show. He is certainly capable of it. Most of the riffage is a chug-a-lug affair. The only picking is on 311’s signature “Mellow Bookend Track” which closes all of their recent albums. This is quite pathetic really. “I’ll Be Here Awhile” has clearly gone to straight to 311’s collective ego. They have been attempting to reproduce that closing track’s anesthetizing effect over and over, in spite of diminishing returns.

Hexum is Hexum, with his corn-fed gangster drawl. It seems as though he realizes 311 has lost their edge; Hexum's once imperative and commanding presence has atrophied.

Universal Pulse sees 311 stagnating for their third album in a row (Don’t Tread On Me, Uplifter, Universal Pulse). If the Nebraskans were a brand new act, I would probably give this a higher rating, maybe a 3. However, due to a declining trend in 311’s innovation, and consequently in their ability to invigorate the listener, this album receives an average rating.

Recommended Tracks:

Wild Nights
Count Me In


user ratings (119)
Chart.
3
good
other reviews of this album
SowingSeason STAFF (2.5)
If this truly is the “universal pulse”, then I think it’s safe to say that we’re all about t...

Cysquatch (1.5)
Sigh – here we go again....

cashnugz421 (4.5)
311 take a trip on the 420 highway and create the album of ultimate universal vibes...


Comments:Add a Comment 
telebyrd
July 19th 2011


869 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

First review! please let me know how I did

PorkchopExpress
July 19th 2011


405 Comments


I haven't listened to anything new by these guys in years. They fell apart after "Transistor" in my opinion, for pretty much all the reasons you mentioned. Not a bad first review either.

fractured
July 19th 2011


387 Comments


Real nice review! Listening to it right now, and what you've written is pretty much ringing true. These guys haven't made energetic music in awhile, they are settled into their groove.

KangarooSong
July 19th 2011


144 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0 | Sound Off

A fellow 311-head, I see. I just saw them play a week ago and I thought the songs off this new album sounded pretty great, but 311 really is a better live band than in studio. Hexum's vocals just sound so filled with forced enthusiasm, and it's been that way since "From Chaos". I want 90s-era 311 back...



I liked the review btw. It seems to be tailor-made for any dedicated 311 fan but at the same time, a newcomer could still see what you're getting at.

Parallels
July 19th 2011


8858 Comments


I sure did have fun putting these albums on the shelf knowing I'm gonna lose my job [Borders].

WatchItExplode
July 19th 2011


5253 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I dig the review.....forgot this was coming out, I better pick it up. I'm sure this is decidedly average but will still get plenty of spins from me.

telebyrd
July 19th 2011


869 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

bro I worked at borders at one time too, sorry about your job

mallen-
July 19th 2011


1240 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

I don't know if I can stomach another album like Uplifter, but I'll probably listen anyway

trymedude
July 19th 2011


151 Comments


sounds like a 2.8. band was good until don't tread on me. sigh.

Deder545
July 19th 2011


83 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0 | Sound Off

I don't think this album is terrible. It's just painfully short and unimportant. It has some decent jams though, like Count Me In.

trymedude
July 19th 2011


151 Comments


andcas, my brother thinks their cover is better than the original. lolololololol

BASELINE
July 19th 2011


40 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

this is best they've put out since evolver, even if its only 8 songs. a step in the rigt direction if you ask me. unfortunately the days from chaos and every earlier album are over. not diggin the new drum sound chad has had either..miss the old piccolo snare

renegadestrings
July 19th 2011


1511 Comments


Excellent first review. Told me pretty much everything I wanted to know

SowingSeason
Moderator
July 19th 2011


25588 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

planning on reviewing this as well



this is a nice review though, pos

Digging: Senses Fail - If There Is Light, It Will Find You

mallen-
July 19th 2011


1240 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

better than uplifter, but that isn't saying much

IndianaWarLord
July 20th 2011


310 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

oh man im so sorry you guys have realized that other people that you dislike have heard of 311; that must be devastating to you dateless fuckers.... anywho 311 throws down in a genre they have created and its dope

telebyrd
July 20th 2011


869 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

That is one long, confounding sentence.

IndianaWarLord
July 20th 2011


310 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

As a lifelong 311 fan, i feel as though i reserve the right to call it how it is. you telebyrd, have developed a whorish review that you hope will win u some admiration. but the bottom line is that this a classic 311 album that fans will truly appreciate. great album for you newbies, sry about the sputnik hipster fagginess

SowingSeason
Moderator
July 20th 2011


25588 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

oh god not this again

ryp1984
July 20th 2011


2 Comments


"Hexum is Hexum, with his corn-fed gangster drawl."

Elaborate, this is a ridiculous claim to make of anyone, even if Nebraska is his home state.

I don't like really any of the wording of this, not to mention the fact that I just plain don't believe you, after reading 3 or 4 reviews now of this album. Somehow you've found a way to dislike this album when pretty much everyone says it's at least likeable, even if their sound has become somewhat redundant.



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