Not Forgotten – The Unicorns – Who Will Cut Our Hair When We’re Gone?

Just from the pencil-crayon artwork of the CD cover, you sort of know that Who Will Cut Our Hair When We’re Gone? is going to be a chaotically shambolic album, with lots of scratchy sounds, off-kilter keyboards, a generous serving of indie harmonies and an almost non-existent production job.

Although firmly rooted in shabby indie territory, Who Will Cut Our Hair When We’re Gone? has a thread of shameless pop running through it, with the likes of “Jellybones”, “Child Star” and “I Was Born (A Unicorn)” being the tracks where it is most obvious. If you listen closely enough as well, you get the feeling that Matthew Friedberger borrowed a lot of The Unicorn’s keyboard sounds for The Fiery Furnaces.

Who Will Cut Our Hair When We’re Gone? is cool in the same way that the 70s cartoon Roobarb was cool. It’s charm comes from the fact that it’s obvious that it was created on a shoe-string budget, but it still works on its own terms. That said The Unicorns still fit loosely within the American alt-rock movement along with the likes of Arcade Fire, the Shins and Islands (which given the fact that Island Nicholas Diamond was one of the chief Unicorns isn’t surprising really) and any fans of those bands should really check out The Unicorns. Although not the easiest album to find (especially here in the UK), with perseverance you can stumble across it cheaply if you scour the second-hand stores regularly enough.

With the band splitting in 2004 and Islands first album being well received by those that have heard it, there isn’t really much hope for a Unicorns revival, which in its own way is a comforting thought. Some acts spend years playing the fame game, burning out and releasing a string of albums that sound exactly the same as each other, while there are other acts that burn briefly and brightly, but then disappear as quickly as they arrived without time for the music to go stale. I for one take great comfort when I find acts like that.


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