The Uptights It Is for Them That the Lights Twinkle LP

The UPTIGHTS are a Norwegian quartet with a mono fixation. Recorded over a sequence of years straight to cassette, you can’t accuse these garage rockers of being shiny or polished. By that description, you might expect in-the-red lo-fi puke punk, but the UPTIGHTS have a little something grander in mind. Unfortunately, the recording doesn’t help matters. Normally, I’m all about cramming as much sound as you can manage into that little box and letting the compression work its magic. But the cave setting doesn’t bring out the best in these songs; check, for instance, the over-modulated vocals of “Days.” The music is languid, almost a slowcore strum, but the mic distortion just craps all over it. Is it an aesthetic choice? Does it matter? After ambling through a few sedate instrumentals, those all-mid-range vocals come back with a vengeance and actually bring to mind an entire subgenre of badly-recorded emo from the 1990s. It’s an aesthetic pile-up and there ain’t a stretcher in sight. There’s genuine feeling here, and a couple good songs, but, ironically, the UPTIGHTS need to quit loosening the screws and get in the ring.