When UNKLE made their long-awaited return in 2017 with 'The Road: Part I', their first studio release in seven years, they announced that it would form the beginning of a new trilogy of records, spanning the next few years. And while it was not their most proficient release to date, it did have this yearning sense of pace to it, as if it was the appetiser to something bigger yet to come. And now it seems that the main course has arrived in the form of 'The Road: Part II (Lost Highway)', an expansive double-album that totals a whopping 22-tracks and continues the electronic innovators as they explore the next stage of their musical evolution.
Just like every other UNKLE album to date, 'The Road: Part II (Lost Highway)' comes equipped with an arsenal of exciting guest performers including Mark Lanegan, Elliott Power, Editor's Tom Smith, and The Clash's Mick Jones, who each look to add their own sense of gravitas to their designated cut. But much like their last full-length, this new collection sees them step away from the hip-hop direction of their originals and move towards a more ethereal trip-hop intention, something that only seems to work half of the time. This record feels very much in line with their work on 'Never, Never, Land', but without the true sense of doom and haunting atmosphere running through it.
Although we know this is only a portion to their trilogy of releases, as a standalone collection is rarely excites and spends much of its time meandering from one vanilla single to the next. While it looks to remain part of that core UNKLE sound throughout, it feels very much like a shadow of its former self, looking to imitate it without much in the way of flair or eccentricity.