Chalk Ursula up as a Perth band to watch. This homegrown supergroup is composed of Robbie Rumble (The Love Junkies) and Ashby Ranson (Pat Chow) on guitar/vocals, Sara McPherson (New Talk) on bass and Tyler Ray Mitchie (Old Blood) on drums. With such strong local rock lineage running through in its veins Ursula have some big potential, and their debut Brains, Waste, Heart doesn’t disappoint.
The band have come out of the gate fully-formed, as this is an album with a strikingly consistent and well-realised sound. The nineties is the keyword here, with the songs a grab-bag of influences that calls to mind alt rockers like The Pixies or The Breeders along with shoegazers like My Bloody Valentine and Slowdive. The title track and opener Brains, Waste, Heart booms out of the gate like a mission statement, with distorted and caterwauling guitar and hard-hitting crusty drums. While the waves of distortion run through you, there’s no mistaking the pop smarts in this song’s catchy reverb-drenched refrains.
The pattern of catchy, excellently-produced tunes then proceeds to continue with startling consistency. The band alternates songs fronted by Robbie’s vocals against those by Ashby, a sequencing decision that was likely intentional and keeps the tracks fresh. Therefore, second track Drink n Drive is a slower and sweeter counterpoint, and equally catchy none the same. Hot n Bothered then switches back to Robbie in a faster, more punky sounding track with some excellent chorused guitar effects. It’s a song about anxiety and themes of mental health and introspection run throughout the album, as on the devastating and drum-heavy Stomach Full of Coal later in the tracklist.
There’s plenty else to chew on. Every song features an excellent hook and displays the band’s penchant for tunes that build and play off quiet-and-loud dynamics. Gone Fishin’ is a more laidback tune for instance with an excellent arpeggiated riff and great vocal, while Not Lovin’ You is a grungier number with a stop-start riff and somewhat awkward chorus that is catchy despite itself. And the band rounds out their range with album closer Auckland, a slower rumination on change that serves as a perfect palate cleanser. It closes an accomplished album of well-written, stage-ready alt rock tunes. For those following the local scenes or with any interest in the grungy alternative rock with a pop edge, this is a must have.