Ulver Finally Carve Out a Niche with Their '80s Synthpop Style on 'Flowers of Evil'

BY Alex WhethamPublished Aug 28, 2020

For the first time in their career, exploratory Norwegian group Ulver have followed up a record with another one in the same style. The band has become known for their disinterest in following a specific style, releasing albums in eclectic genres like black metal, trip-hop and art rock, among others.

And while Flowers of Evil follows pretty faithfully in the footsteps of the band's 2017 record, The Assassination of Julius Caesar, this ends up working in the band's favour. Singer Krystoffer Rygg's voice suits the dark Depeche Mode-esque synthpop style the group tackled on that record, and on Flowers of Evil, they harness it to create a catchier, more concise and overall better album.

Lead single "Russian Doll" in particular stands out as a highlight, with its arpeggiated synthesizers, driving drum machine and gothic delivery from Rygg meshing to form one of the group's better and most accessible songs to date. While the danceable drums throughout the entire record can at times border on cheesy (see the guitar-backed disco romp "Machine Guns and Peacock Feathers"), they are no more cheesy than any genuine '80s synthpop song they're paying tribute to.

Ulver doesn't do anything to push the synthpop sound they pursue out of its comfort zone and this keeps the album from greatness, but Flowers of Evil stands out as the band's most accessible album to date. There's no shortage of memorable moments to be found here, and while it is unknown if this "dark '80s-synthpop" Ulver will continue from here, this album proves that they've hit a sound they could reasonably pull from for the remainder of their career.
(House of Mythology)

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