When they first appeared on the scene a few years ago I will freely admit to dismissing The Ukuladeez as ‘jangly hipster nonsense’. However, with the release of their knowingly lo-fi debut album, The Awesome Adventures of the Girls With the Tiny Guitars, things seemed to begin coming together for them and this continued in the following months with countless gigs at venues as diverse as Guernsey’s Government House, The Peace Tent at Chaos and the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.
Now, having gained a wealth of experience at these gigs and solidifying their line up both physically and sonically with the addition of their trio of ‘Ukulady-boys’, the sextet have released a second record in the form of the five song Cosmic Tea Party EP.
Surrounded by a loose concept, that of the ‘ladeez’ having a tea party and discussing the subjects of the songs, gives the whole thing a vague framework that, while not totally conceptually successful, does add a little something of their character beyond the music which is a big part of their live shows.
Opener Swinging Brick highlights something that is quite a common theme in The Ukuladeez work as it marries a light-hearted tone with some quite scathing lyrics – and I feel somewhat sorry for whoever the inspiration for this song was.
This is followed by a song with a similar, if slightly more physical, theme, Down On Me, that serves to show The Ukuladeez are not entirely family friendly fare – though everything is kept shrouded nicely in innuendo and euphemism highlighting their collective gift for word play excellently.
Things take a turn for the Pythonesque next with an (initially) more straightforward love song, Brian. Though as it goes on it emerges the subject of the song may not actually be called Brian and the use of chorus and harmony alongside the lead vocals works exceptional well both on a musical level and in getting across the gang like vibe the band put across in their live shows. However there are points here where things teeter on the edge of becoming too quirky for their own good – though thankfully they stay just on the right side of quirk overload.
An entirely universal subject comes to the fore next in the form of Sunday evening feelings on Antiques Roadshow Blues. Once again laced with the kind of witty word play that has become their calling card this song entirely manages to evoke the feelings of a lazy Sunday evening with the knowledge that is back to work on Monday morning.
Things are rounded off with a slice of pure folky pop in Follow The Sun that, while it’s not dealing with any outright subjects it is always nice to hear a well pitched pop song played with a real sense of fun.
Across the EP The Ukuladeez demonstrate a real maturity in terms of songwriting and arrangement with multiple instruments and harmonies all arranged expertly and captured with excellently by Stretchy Studios. The addition of a dedicated rhythm section as well as flute and violin has also helped elevate the band’s sound and that really helps build things into a complete and highly enjoyable musical package.
With their Cosmic Tea Party, The Ukuladeez have captured a sense of what makes them so popular and enjoyable live and married it with the control afforded on a studio recording to create a fun, relaxed well-played and above all entertaining record.