Like its predecessor, Uplifter, this album was produced by Bob Rock, who has produced or engineered albums by numerous notable acts, such as Metallica, Aerosmith, Mötley Crüe, Bon Jovi, The Cult, Our Lady Peace and The Offspring. Unlike previous albums where their record label requested that the drums be recorded at an alternate location, all tracks, including the drums, were recorded at the Hive Studio. To support the album, 311 invited Sublime with Rome to co-headline the 2011 Unity Tour, with special guests DJ Soulman and DJ Trichrome. The artwork was done by Sonny Kay. With only eight songs and clocking within less than thirty minutes, it's their shortest album to date.
Allmusic editor Stephen Thomas Erlewine gave Universal Pulse a 2.5/5, commenting "Within the sharp relief of Bob Rock’s immaculate production, this can mean that the fuzz-toned guitars and crunching riffs are strenuously underlined: they are the foundation of this unusually rock-oriented 311 album yet in this crystal-clear atmosphere they drill, not pummel." and concludes that "Universal Pulse can be wearying even at its half-hour length."Consequence of Sound gave the album a 3.5/5 and declares that it's the band best album since From Chaos, saying "Once this album has completed its first full rotation, there’s an immediate urge to play it again. It’s short, sweet, and a perfect follow-up to where the band was in 2009."