How refreshing amidst the backdrop of the current populist political climate to have a band like The Umlauts. Formed after meeting together at Wimbledon College of Art, but with two of their four members hailing from mainland Europe, their debut EP ‘Ü’ is a record characterised by cross-border perspectives both stylistically and thematically.
The genesis of The Umlauts resides in Stroud, where the group’s song writing duo Alfred Lear and Oliver Offord grew up and started writing together in the Gloucestershire town’s SVA Artspace. Treating the space as something of a refuge in which they could experiment, the pair delved deep into synthesisers and record collections alike, drawn to The Fall and other first generational post-punks like X-Ray Spex, as well as the likes of Bjork and The Knife.
However, it’s at art college in London and the addition of lyricists and vocalists Annabelle Mödlinger and Maria Vittoria Faldini that’s crystallised them as a band. Their debut EP is a tightly hewn mix of mechanical synth-pop, spiky no wave and bristling post-punk, with Mödlinger and Faldini’s multilingual lyrics giving it a razor-sharp focus. On Um Politik’s rough-edged electro splatter, reminiscent a little of the Units, they rip apart the binary nature of 21st debate, for instance; while Energy Plan’s foreboding electronic kosmische is centred around multi-disciplinary artist Joseph Beuys’ quote “Energy plan for the western man” and laments our eroding empathy for one another.