Jack Ritchie is a UK based electronic music producer. He has released multiple EPs and remixes under the name Bearcubs over the past few years. On March 2nd, he released his first album, Ultraviolet. The album is very solid and the James Blake influence is heard throughout the record. I wouldn’t call anything Bearcubs is doing in Ultraviolet groundbreaking or original, but what he does, he does very well. Ultraviolet doesn’t have many highs, but it has many lows – low tones from the bass-driven songs and low vocals from Jack Ritchie. Bearcubs‘ first album Ultraviolet keeps the listener hypnotized with pulsating bass, slow tempos, and pitch-bent vocals.
The first offering off of Ultraviolet is the title track, which slowly swells into the chorus of a heavily altered and lowered Jack Ritchie singing ‘I can see her, Ultraviolet’. The choruses aren’t the most profound lyrically, but they are extremely catchy. Another highlight of the album is “Do You Feel”, a very smooth song about the early stages of a relationship. This is one of the better songs off the record. Farther along is “Alone With You”, which is a beautiful duet featuring the sensual vocals of Clem Douglas from Kuda Blue. It’s more of a straightforward r’n’b track with the electronic flares you’ve come to expect from Bearcubs. My favorite part is definitely when Clem Douglas is repeating ‘Alone with you, oh yea yea yea’ when the beat drops down to keys and claps.
“Wolves” starts off sounding like it would be a straightforward trap song, with an oriental-sounding melody played by synth flutes and keys. It’s much darker musically and thematically than the rest of the record, which I really dig. “Landslide” immediately gives me a Frank Ocean feel to it. Ritchie’s vocals in this song are a little less manipulated and you get to hear him hit some high notes. This song was Bearcubs‘ first single off of Ultraviolet. There is a really dope synth violin solo which really stands out on the album.
“The Search” is another collaboration featuring Lawrence Allen from Loyal. Their vocals blend well together, with Allen covering the higher range and Ritchie filling a baritone role. Bearcubs uses a 60s-sounding organ as the leading instrument in the song to give it an old school feel. My favorite track is “In Parallel”, the only song on the record NOT in 4/4. A very swingy 6/8 piano arpeggio drives the song. This song really stands out from the rest, not only because of the different time signature, but also because of the piano leading the rest of the instruments along the way. It’s also the longest song on the record showcasing the arpeggiated piano riff, which closes out the song.
It is very hard to stand out in the electronic world. I think Bearcubs sticks his head out, but ultimately he’s floating in the sea of endless EDM producers. Though the slower glitchy tempos wouldn’t make Ultraviolet ‘EDM’, it’s under the same umbrella. Bearcubs took a shot with Ultraviolet, I’m just not necessarily sure the ball went in. While I thoroughly enjoy this record, it’s not something groundbreaking. I do feel that Bearcubs is knocking at the door to really stand out and continually change his sound for the better.
Notable Tracks: “Do You Feel”; “Alone With You”; “Wolves”; “In Parallel”
FFO: James Blake, Frank Ocean