Some records manage to instantly dissolve cynicism like sugar in acid. Childhood’s ‘Universal High’ (Ben Romans-Hopcraft’s reinvention from indie band leader to solo act) is a summertime blast of good-time, tune-heavy joy that wears its soul influences like a poster board. ‘A.M.D’ is open-top road music, a shimmering chorus carried by falsetto vocals, while ‘Too Old For My Tears’ is a great blast of brassy soul-pop; two minutes of distilled jive brilliance.
This is an album of universal appeal and big choruses, while lines like “When I was nineteen on the dancefloor / And everything felt like so much more” display a sweet wistfulness. ‘Cameo’ has a bassline built for lovin’ and vocals that sound like Gruff Rhys doing an impression of Barry White, before a chorus reminiscent of Mansun’s ‘Wide Open Space’ – an odd menagerie, but incredibly it all sounds brilliant together. Barring a couple of pedestrian moments, and it must be said the occasional feeling of pastiche, ‘Universal High’ is a melody-driven, good-time record of fabulous soul-pop.
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