UNKLE, ‘War Stories’ (Surrender All)
UNKLE’s debut, 1998’s Psyence Fiction, was essentially a DJ Shadow disc packed with guest stars, so when Shadow left the group — masterminded by Mo’Wax label chief James Lavelle — so did its musical vision. Lavelle has turned to some rock-centric friends (most notably coproducer and Queens of the Stone Age collaborator Chris Goss) for UNKLE’s third album, ditching the electronic undercarriage in favor of live instruments and singers known better for growling — Josh Homme, Ian Astbury — than rapping. Although still engagingly widescreen at points (Astbury’s goth throwback “Burn My Shadow”), War Stories feels more like a random compilation than a fresh exploration.
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