Punk is not dead, and neither is its iconic sound heir, post-punk. Many modern bands find their peace in loudness, distortion, and a certain elegance borrowed from black-and-white pre-revival times. Barcelonian band Univers couldn’t escape from this allure, presenting to the world their noisy opera prima, L’Estat Natural.
A half hour is enough to go through Univers’ boldness. None of the songs are bound to become hits, not because they lack structure, but because the band decided to favor the album as a whole. One might say the symbolism is present right on the cover, where a Greek sculpture that once was a block of stone looks at you. Also, their decision to sing in Catalan—something that could’ve been an obstacle—proves to add a cryptic feeling for non-Catalan speakers who can only guess loose words.
L’Estat Natural runs through a range of aural stages: majestic, cathedral-like levels are present in “Travessant la Llum del Sol” and “Heather;” anxious, sweaty, punk-ish riffs shape up “Minerals,” “Estàtua en Moviment,” and “Camps en Flames;” and even the lightest moments of the record (“Iceberg” or “Paral•lel”) carry on that inherent melancholy thanks to Eduard Bjalance and/or Yago Alcover’s crooning skills à la Ian Curtis, Morrissey, and other old-school counterparts.
So, if you’re willing to leave the general pop waves behind for a moment, Univers is one of many right choices in the small Iberian scene of rebels who are still blowing life into rock’n’roll.