Recorded in Atlanta across the summer of 2016 where the band decamped for a month, it was produced by the legendary Ben H Allen III (Gnarls Barkley, Animal Collective, Deerhunter) who struck up quite the creative partnership with ringleader Ben Romans-Hopscraft. You could be forgiven for branding Universal High a rebirth. In places almost unrecognizable from the dub-charged psychedelic indie of their debut, the new sound swells from the southern streets in which it came to life, caked in the Seventies soul of The Isley Brothers, Curtis Mayfield and Shuggie Otis.
Ben Romans-Hopcraft says, “Universal High represents many things to us as a band. It signifies change, both musically and mentally whilst also revisiting influences that confounded our interest in music in the first place. What I think is noticeable is the direct nature of the songs and its influences. Being surrounded by soul music, classic pop songs and music with any form of groove all my life, these influences began to speak for themselves within these new songs we were writing”.
Since the first album Ben’s evolved into something of an auteur, with numerous collaborations under his belt as both a producer, recurrently alongside new regular comrade Sean Lennon, as well as numerous teamings with Fat White Family’s Saul Adamczewski as part of both Warmduscher and Insecure Men.
The campaign’s visuals were all styled by acclaimed designer Grace Wales-Bonner, and the video to first single “Californian Light” chimes the album’s aesthetic in visceral 3-D form, based around Ben and director Georgio Barber’s formative years growing up within five minutes of each other in South London. ‘Californian Light’ attempts to explore their nostalgia in its choice of location amidst the market-lined streets of the capital’s East Street, encapsulating what it was like growing up with its bustling atmosphere and fading architecture.
The band are playing the below festival dates and will headline London’s Scala on 28 November. Tickets are available here, and more dates will be announced soon.
Childhood Live Dates:
1st July – Hello Birds Festival, France
14th July – Benicassim Festival, Spain
16th July – Latitude Festival, Suffolk, UK
22nd July – Midi Festival, France
29th July – Port Eliot Festival, Cornwall, UK
10th August – Leefest: The Neverland, UK
11th August – Ventnor International Festival, Isle of Wight
12th August – Oya Festival, Norway
20th to 23rd September – Reeperbahn Festival, Hamburg
21st October – Simple Things Festival, Bristol, UK
2nd to 5th November – Iceland Airwaves, Reykjavik, Iceland
28th November – Scala, London, UK