Pitchfork (Website) - "Every phrase Galarraga screams, every phrase that he does not, every burst of noise within a track's connective fiber are carefully calculated tabs on their audience's emotional pulse."
Clash (magazine) - "['Feathers of Yes'] showcases Big Ups' knowing ferocity without artifice, with its rusty skate-punk reprises that are flanked by car-crash breakdowns."
Audio Mixer: Dan Frome.
Recording information: Frome Recording.
A nervy, fractured blast of millennial unease, Before a Million Universes, the sophomore studio long player from the Big Apple-based punk/post-hardcore quartet, is as fiery as it is laconic, invoking names like Fugazi, Gallows, the Pixies, and even, to a lesser extent, early Pavement. Big Ups' 2013 debut, the seething Eighteen Hours of Static, offered up a vital, yet familiar sounding amalgam of early-'80s socio-political punk and elliptic, early-'90s lo-fi American underground indie rock. Before a Million Universes does much of the same, but with a more progressive bent. The former NYU tech students' vocational chops are on full display throughout the album's just-over-40-minute run time, and vocalist Joe Galarraga's nonchalant mumble/full-on Ian MacKaye-inspired howl lends weight/restraint where needed with surprising efficacy. Yes, this is classic loud/quiet/loud stuff. Early standouts like "Contain Myself" and "Capitalize" excel on all fronts, teasing melodies out into the open and then taking them down with a precision headshot. Further in, the propulsive and punitive "Negative" is prefaced by a dreamy instrumental intro that's awash in bucolic major sevenths, and the surprisingly affecting "National Parks" dials back on the capitalism takedowns and turns down the spotlight on social injustice in favor of a more personal narrative that sees Galarraga singing the praises of the single mother who raised him. That everything segues into each other helps Before a Million Universes transcend its less immediate moments, which are luckily peppered throughout as opposed to corralled together in one big miasmic cluster, but even those sonic aberrations are largely economical. A smart young band in an increasingly dumbed-down world, Big Ups may have found their voice in the past, but they're clearly swinging for a brighter future. ~ James Christopher Monger