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USS, or Union Sound Set, are a five-piece based in London. To The Wolves is the follow up to their debut, 2010's Start/Stop. To The Wolves is an interesting listen; given its american-indie/post-rock influences, it does still manage to feel distinctly British, and those roots push through to the fore enough to make a unique overall sound. There are a few issues with the record, however, but these same issues are occasionally embraced to the extent that they become the record's strongest parts.

To The Wolves sounds as if it's a product of the Editors meeting Sigur Rós around their Með suð í eyrum við spilum endalaust era. There's a really grounded indie-base, upon which loud post-rock explosions erupt from. I'm not sure how that'll sound to you, but I'd imagine you'll probably be a tad sceptical. It's understandable. See, To The Wolves, for good stretch of its runtime, suggests that this mix just isn't quite right. This ten-track record, coming in at just under three-quarters of an hour, has a peculiar character to it, one that feels completely justified one moment, but can become troubling the next. Things start strongly with 'I Can't, So You Will', which showcases a lot of positives. The most obvious one to talk about is Edd Simpson's vocals (brother of Fightstar's Charlie Simpson). 'I Can't, So You Will' has some beautifully lyrics in it, and the track carries this touch of intimacy that's well pronounced due to Simpson's nuanced delivery. The track ends with a slow build, and finishes on a high. It's weird that what follows immediately afterwards is 'Bird of Passage', where vocals now are more akin to Adam Lazzara (Taking Back Sunday) than anything before. It's an odd change, especially after what feels like a mood-setting opening track, and the melodies that follow are a lot more structured and blunt. It just feels a bit weird. 'To The Wolves' follows, and it too has a confused delivery.

So, I guess three tracks in I'm just not feeling the love. As the fourth track, 'Two Lives', opens up, you can almost feel the moment the percussion is about to join in, and I was waiting for the formulaic drumming to chime in, and dictate the next half-an-hour of listening. 'Two Lives', however, bucked my expectations. Although I do struggle to see the longevity of this very particular path USS are travelling down, this track really hits some strong notes. It goes through many motions, but each one feels directed, confident, progressive. It's an arresting track, and really manages to blend together different elements nicely. This track marks the point at which the album hits a better stride, with 'Letters' borrowing some of Cults' glockenspiels to good effect, creating a textured energy about the piece. 'Our Open Books' is the best straight-up post-rock track on here, delivering an ending befitting of its build up, pulling the rug from under you as it finishes abruptly. 'A Grounded Few' is vicious and direct, and although it doesn't bring too much to the fore that hasn't come before on the record, it showcases a good side of the band.

The final three tracks are a bit anti-climactic. 'Hold the Ships' has some interesting ideas littered through it, but it keeps on returning to solid ground far too often to develop any of those ideas to any worthwhile extent. 'Volcanoes', again, has some nice ideas, but just doesn't develop them enough, and becomes plodding towards its finish. Album closer, 'Separate Ones', doesn't really do too much to excite, and ends the album on a bit of a loose end. It's sad that the start and tail-end of this record contain tracks that don't showcase the band's best abilities, but, ultimately, there are tracks here that are worth exploring, if you have the time.

The main issue, and it's one that is hard to spin as a positive, is the album's voice. One minute there will be an eruption of post-rock cacophony, the next a mid '00s indie guitar hook. Whilst both parts work well separately, their nestling next to one another highlights the difficulty of mixing these two juxtaposed genres together. Of course, there are the exceptions, like 'Two Lives', but I'm not sure whether this is the example that shows it can be done, or just the exception that proves the rule. I guess, really, I don't want it to be the exception that proves the rule. See, USS at their best on To the Wolves are almost worth them at their worst here. Sure, that sounds a bit odd, but there's promise in the sound these guys are aiming for, and I'd really like to be proved wrong on this. Unfortunately, To the Wolves isn't that proof, but it's worth hearing what these guys have to say regardless.

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