Album Review: Vukovi – Fall Better

Vukovi have dropped their sophomore album and Fall Better is everything that’s great about Scottish rock music. 

Glasgow’s high-energy rock duo are back with the release of their second record Fall Better, released Friday via VKVI Records. Produced by Bruce Rintoul – in whose spare bedroom Janine recorded some of her vocals – Fall Better is pop-infused rock that promises to get you off your seat and dance.

Vocalist Janine Shilstone has a simple mission statement for her band’s music. “I want our songs to let people know that they’re not alone in feeling crazy,” she says. “I want to give people who feel that way a little bit of comfort. I want them to feel less alone. I want to let people know that it’s okay to be weird, and for them not to feel isolated because of it. Our fan base is a beautiful army of weirdos, and I want that to grow. I want them all to feel like they belong here. And I want to be a rock star,” she says.

Fall Better starts off with a short AI-voiced intro that asks the listener to prepare for “strong language, dark feelings, and some dirty f*cking riffs.” Which is precisely what is to follow as Violent Minds rips through your speakers (or headphones). Across the record, Vukovi find the perfect balance between grungy riffs and pop-y synths to create memorable hooks alongside relatable lyrics.

Just as the fast-paced and drum-heavy Play With Me Cos I Can Take It is spinning round your head and you’re half-way through the album, Verify Your Worth picks up on the intro reminding the listener to verify a never-ending set of questions about gender physical appearance and relationship status. Followed by the huge sounds of recent single All That Candy about which Janine says:

“When writing All That Candy I was going through a really angry stage towards my OCD. Angry because I physically wanted to hurt this thing which I couldn’t, so talking back and standing up for myself seemed the next best thing. I think our songwriting has come on so much since our debut album, but our mental health has got worse. This album is our therapy and we hope it’s going to help a lot of people as well.”

And just as you come up for air from the haunting and addictive White Lies, latest single release Run/Hide closes the record. Janine says about the track:  “about questioning whether I can actually get away from this thing that I think follows me. Can I learn to control it?” referring to her personal struggles with a form of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder called Thought Action Fusion, documented on much of Fall Better – a disorder that can lead those who have it to believe that their actions are guided by an external presence; in Janine’s case, this presence took the form of a shadow “that makes decisions for me, and decides whether something good or bad is going to happen to me on any given day.”

“I wanted to create a song we didn’t quite have yet on the album, like a super mature, heavy, fucked up track” explains guitarist Hamish Reilly. “Eventually I fell into the riff and just began to build from there! I felt lucky to find that riff, I didn’t actually come up with that, but more someone must have planted it in my head!”

And what a way to close the album. It features all the high-energy riffs that flow through the record like an endless stream of rock and punk. The added synths and pop influences give Run/Hide as well as Fall Better on a whole a mainstream appearance without losing it’s character and individuality.