UN (album)

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UN
Studio album by Dan Black
Released 13 July 2009 (UK)
16 February 2010 (US)
Recorded 2008
Genre Alternative dance, wonky pop,[1] electronica
Length 45:55
Label A&M
Polydor
The:Hours
Dan Black chronology
((UN))(2009) Do Not Revenge (2013)
Singles from UN
  1. "Symphonies"
    Released: 29 June 2009
  2. "Yours"
    Released: 2010
  3. "Wonder"
    Released: 2010
  4. "U + Me"
    Released: 2010
  5. "Alone"
    Released: October 2010

UN (styled as ((UN))) is the debut studio album by British recording artist Dan Black, the former lead singer of the alternative rock band, The Servant. The album was released in the UK on 13 July 2009 by Polydor, and later in the United States on 16 February 2010 by A&M Records.

The album was recorded entirely by Black and debuted to generally mixed reviews from music critics, with some praising its sound and others denouncing its originality.

Conception[edit]

Black spent a year creating material for the album, writing over seventy songs.[2] However, Black later referred to many of them as 'rubbish'.[3] Prince, DJ Shadow, Beck, and De La Soul have all been cited as having a significant influence on the album.[4] Black conceived the title UN meaning "one" in order to signify his debut album.[5]

However, Black has stated that the album's title also refers to its substance, such as, "un-rock, un-hip hop, un-everything".[5]

Recording[edit]

Black recorded the album entirely on his laptop in the basement of his apartment in Paris,[6] in a span of two months.[7] In the studio, Black would work alone as long as twelve hours at a time.[8] Except for the mixing and mastering, Black created the album by himself exclusively.[9]

Singles[edit]

"Symphonies", the album's first official single, was released as the U.S. iTunes "Single of the Week" for the week of 28 December 2009. A remix of the song was recorded with Kid Cudi, and was released as a bonus track for the American release of the album. Both versions of the song received heavy airplay on Nova and Triple J networks in Australia as well as alternative radio worldwide.

"U + Me =" was released as a radio single in Australia on Triple J.

A promo CD of "Wonder" was sent to Australian radio on 5 November 2010.

Track listing[edit]

All songs written and composed by Dan Black.

No. Title Length
1. "Symphonies"   3:41
2. "U + Me ="   3:11
3. "Ecstasy"   4:11
4. "Alone"   3:33
5. "Cocoon"   4:22
6. "Yours"   3:27
7. "Pump My Pumps"   3:35
8. "Wonder"   3:41
9. "Cigarette Pack"   4:16
10. "Life Slash Dreams"   3:46
11. "I Love Life"   3:12
12. "Let Go"   5:00
Total length:
45:55

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 3.5/5 stars[10]
BBC Music (favourable)[4]
The Guardian 3/5 stars[11]
The Independent 4/5 stars[6]
musicOMH 3/5 stars[8]
NME (unfavourable)[12]
PopMatters (8/10)[13]
Rave 2/5 stars[9]
Spin (6/10)[14]
The Telegraph 4/5 stars[15]

Critical response to the album has been mixed, with some critics praising Black's blend of sounds and others criticizing his lack of originality. According to Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating out of 100 to reviews from mainstream critics, the album holds a score of 67/100, indicating "generally favorable reviews", based on ten reviews.[16] Lou Thomas of BBC wrote a favorable review of the album, stating, "Dan Black has made a smart, confident record that is far more accessible than many made by such an overtly cool customer."[4] Andy Gill of The Independent also wrote favorably of the album, calling it "An impressive debut."[6] Neil McCormick of The Telegraph gave the album 4 out of 5 stars, complimenting Black's new image and describing the record as "smart, addictive future pop."[15] A reviewer from Mojo, impressed with the album, stated, "Black's chops and tunes suggest he won't stay underground."[17]

However, not all reviews were favorable. Dave Simpson of The Guardian gave the album 3 out of 5 stars, stating, "His whiny vocals grate after a while, and while tracks like Yours offer fabulous - if soulless - computerised funk, the impact of the discoid stomper Pump By Pumps is rather dulled when you realise the tune had a previous life as Cliff Richard's Devil Woman."[11] Barry Walters of Spin, who gave the album a six out of ten, stated the album's lead single "epitomizes the downbeat side of Black's knack for recycling divergent styles into cinematic synth pop."[14] However, Walters also complimented Dan's style, stating, "the album works best when Black's mood swings between Technicolor dreams and depressing quotidian details.""[14] Louis Pattison of NME also wrote an unfavorable review, stating that the "Truth is, Dan Black surfed this hype wave by doing a clever thing with bits of other people’s songs. ‘Symphonies’ aside, he’s still got to find himself in them."[12] Chris Parkin of Dot Music also wrote unfavorably of the album, stating, "However much electro trickery he has at his fingertips, he needs some songs first."[18] Chad Parkhill of Rave, criticized the album's lack of coherence, calling it "the kind of one-man creative enterprise that demonstrates exactly the perils of going it alone."[9]

Personnel[edit]

[19]

Accolades[edit]

Title Award Nominated work Result
2010 MTV Video Music Awards Best Special Effects in a Video "Symphonies" Nominated[20]
2010 MTV Video Music Awards Breakthrough Video "Symphonies" Nominated[20]

Release history[edit]

Country Date Label
United Kingdom[21]
13 July 2009
Polydor Records
United States[22] 16 February 2010

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Electric dreams for pop in 2009". BBC News. 1 January 2009. Retrieved 30 April 2010. 
  2. ^ "Feature Artists: Dan Black". The Edge. Retrieved 1 August 2010. 
  3. ^ "The Mercury Lounge Upcoming Shows: Dan Black". mercuryloungenyc.com. Retrieved 6 August 2010. 
  4. ^ a b c Thomas, Lou. "Dan Black 'Un' Review". BBC. Retrieved 1 January 2010. 
  5. ^ a b Fitzpatrick, Bryan. "Music Review: Dan Black - ((UN))". blogcritics.com. Retrieved 12 August 2010. 
  6. ^ a b c Gill, Andy (10 July 2009). "Album: Dan Black, 'Un' (A&M)". The Independent (London). Retrieved 16 January 2010. 
  7. ^ Lipshutz, Jason (13 February 2010). "Dan Black brings his electronic music stateside". Reuters. Retrieved 23 October 2010. 
  8. ^ a b Cragg, Michael. "Dan Black - ((un))". musicOMH. Retrieved 20 January 2010. 
  9. ^ a b c Parkhill, Chad. "Dan Black – ((un))". Rave. Retrieved 11 September 2010. 
  10. ^ Sendra, Tim. "((Un)): Dan Black". Allmusic. Retrieved 12 March 2010. 
  11. ^ a b Simpson, Dave (17 July 2009). "Dan Black: Un(A&M)". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 1 January 2010. 
  12. ^ a b Pattison, Louis. "Album Review: Dan Black - 'Un'". NME. Retrieved 20 January 2010. 
  13. ^ Reed, Ryan. "Dan Black: ((Un))". PopMatters. Retrieved 4 August 2010. 
  14. ^ a b c Walters, Barry. "Dan Black, '((Un))' (The:Hours)". Spin. Retrieved 4 September 2010. 
  15. ^ a b McCormick, Neil (13 July 2009). "Dan Black: Un, CD review". The Daily Telegraph (London). Retrieved 22 January 2010. 
  16. ^ black "Un: by Dan Black". Metacritic. Retrieved 4 January 2010. 
  17. ^ Dan Black: Un. August 2009. p. 99. 
  18. ^ Parkin, Chris. "Dan Black - Un". Dot Music. Retrieved 2 August 2010. 
  19. ^ "Un - Dan Black: Credits". Retrieved 22 October 2010. 
  20. ^ a b "NME Artists: Dan Black Biography". Retrieved 31 October 2010. 
  21. ^ "Dan Black's "UN" Album Released in USA and Canada". Electrocube.com. Retrieved 22 October 2010. 
  22. ^ "Un: Dan Black (Artist)". Amazon.com. Retrieved 22 October 2010. 

External links[edit]