ALBUM REVIEW: My Guardian Angel – Ultra Q

Music obviously runs in Jakob Armstrong‘s blood. It makes sense, considering the fact that his dad is Billie Joe Armstrong of GREEN DAY. Jakob fronts ULTRA Q, a Californian pop-punk/synth-pop band who’ve released a few EPs so far, with this album My Guardian Angel marking their first full-length release. Taking their name from an Ultraman prequel series, which is a deep-cut for action TV series fans, it is time for ULTRA Q to unleash their full potential.

Saturday kicks things off with a simple guitar riff and drum beat that takes up almost a third of the three-minute runtime. Armstrong‘s vocals really suit the synth pop-rock genre, as his soft voice melts into the sound. The only issue is that the song could easily be anything else that is played on the radio. It is a simple and inoffensive song that hasn’t really got any personality. Thankfully, VR Sex injects some much needed life into the record. Everything sounds a lot more alive on this song; the guitars seem turned up to eleven, and the drums and the bass sound a lot more energetic. It’s like hearing the band bloom in confidence before your ears.

There is also some experimentation on this album, which is rather daring for a debut. I Watched Them Go is a quirky step into 80s synth-pop with an electronic breakdown instead of a guitar-driven one. It doesn’t one-hundred percent work as the instruments aren’t really audible, but it is a fun bit of experimenting.

It’s not a one-off either; Klepto includes synth-pop as well, although it is a lot more guitar driven this time. Then there’s Slope, which has a laid-back beat and takes a slower approach to music. In fact, the album is a bit all over the place with its songs; there’s the likes of So Very Emo, which leans into emo as the title suggests, while Tether is more of a fast-paced rock song. Closer Dark Green meanwhile is a slow-paced synth-pop song that’s very similar to the opening song, and therefore brings the album full circle.

Despite all this experimentation and some genre-hopping, the pacing is consistent. It is a mid-tempo album. The songs never feel too long or too short, and they all fit neatly together as an overarching whole. Not one song sounds out of place, which is very impressive for a debut album in particular.

Overall, My Guardian Angel is a very solid debut album. ULTRA Q are assured in their sound, and despite taking a moment to find their feet, the band are confident enough to experiment a bit on this album. This is a bold move for a debut full-length, and it pays off because it is within the realms of the genres that they have chosen to play. This in turn makes the album’s pacing consistent and not too long or too short. It is clear that ULTRA Q have spread their wings and are ready to soar to new heights.

Rating: 8/10

My Guardian Angel - Ultra Q

My Guardian Angel is out now via Royal Mountain Records.

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