Almost 20 years after the Ups and Downs called it a day, Out of the Darkness shows a band both of its time, and unsure whether it wanted to exploit its early jangly guitar-paisley success, or explore more challenging artistic pastures and textures. The tracks lifted from the first Ups and Downs release, Sleepless, are straight from the Church atmospheric canon, from the moody title track and Heart to the glittering power pop The Living Kind and the fuzz-infected infectious groove of Travelling.
In the band’s 1986 single, In the Shadows, can be seen the looming spectre of The Triffids, while Lit By the Fuse is as beautiful as anything found in the Sydney paisley underground scene of the mid 1980s. But by the time of Karma, Jack (What the Hell Does That Mean), Awesome and Safer, Ups and Downs are trying to navigate a difficult path between the band’s guitar pop origins and the thick guitar washes of the early 1990s; the result are tracks that lack both melodic precision and basic song structure.
For all of the imperfections of the band’s final years, Ups and Downs were, and remain in historical terms at least, a great independent band. Out of the Darkness is a suitable tribute to a band that deserves to be remembered.
Best Track: Sleepless
If You Like: This, You’ll Like These: THE CHURCH, (early) REM, THE CRYSTAL SET
In A Word: Paisley