Time has caught up to Lavelle on UNKLE's second proper album, however, which makes Never, Never, Land as frustrating as it is rewarding. Musically, it's sublime: Watery piano, keyboard pulses, and menacing beats curl like tendrils of smoke in a dark alley, highlighted by Brian Eno and Jarvis Cocker's glacial synth on "I Need Something Stronger" and the Beatles-go-ambient "Glow."
But like many of his electronic peers, Lavelle is having difficulty finding a modern sweet spot. Whereas Fiction tapped 1998's A-list of names like Thom Yorke and Richard Ashcroft, Never, Never, Land unearths 1989's megastars: Mani and Ian Brown of the Stone Roses. Their cinematic "Reign" features spooky, stern strings, but Brown sounds ready slur "Fool's Gold" at any moment. While certainly a well-built song, it underscores that much of this album heralds the past more than the future. -- Annie Zaleski