Underground Railroad, White Night Stand

Chris Roberts

By Chris Roberts

on 05.11.11 in Reviews

The Parisian émigrés of Underground Railroad have been affecting ownership of their adopted city of London for some time now, but with White Night Stand, the foggy drizzle and dank chill seems to have finally sunk into their music. It has done them good: it’s helped them shake off the simplistic Seattle-grunge borrowings of their previous work. Their avowed "London-ness" is less a bustling modern metropolis and more sinister, nocturnal, netherworld. The influences here are enduring Goth titans like Siouxsie & the Banshees, the Cure and Cranes &3#8212; and beneath it all, a heavy undercurrent of David Lynch: no fewer than four songs are named for characters from Blue Velvet or Twin Peaks.

The dank chill of London has sunk into their music

When Marion Andrau (who also serves as guitarist) is singing, as on "8 Millimetres", Underground Railroad catch something of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs' velvety swirl; when Raphael Mura (also drummer) takes the mic, they come off as more generically indie. The album improves as it develops. Mixed by Paul Walton, who’s worked with Massive Attack and Bjork, the album fully emerges from cover of darkness on the nine-minute centre-piece "Seagull Attack", which loops its way through doomy Black Sabbath riffing, a psychedelic breakdown section, then a vamping crescendo of white noise, feedback and chanting. Tunneling away through the detritus of their various influences, Underground Railroad aren’t low on ideas: if they ever find the bright light of focus, they’ll be dazzling.