There’s a fine line between putting out an album that is stylistically varied and one that is completely disjointed. Most artists that play with different sounds will do it on a number of separate albums rather than on a single album. Given how he approached The Road: Part I, UNKLE doesn’t seem to like playing by the rules, and on The Road: Part II / Lost Highway he again ignores these rules, creating a shockingly varied, and often interesting listening experience.
It is rare to see an artist jump from genre to genre on a single album, and even rarer to see them do it successfully. So what is most impressive about The Road: Part II / Lost Highway is when UNKLE manages to hit multiple genres on a single track. The best example of this is on “Nothing To Give” which sees a Muse or Radiohead like introduction filled with woozy synths and Thom Yorke-esque crooning give way to a surprisingly enjoyable, if a bit repetitive, rap verse. He accomplishes a similar feat on “Crucifixion A Prophet” which evolves from a slow dreamy track into a metal bridge featuring squealing guitars and pounding drums, again showcasing a love of variety.
Given the seemingly random nature of the album, it never feels disjointed, and as such, it is difficult to nitpick the record. If anything one could say that the nearly hour and a half runtime is a bit self aggrandizing, but since the record never stays the same it does feel as though it earns the runtime. Beyond that, there are only a few songs that don’t make it quite as far as the rest, including the true opening track “Requiem (When You Talk Love).” But on this record when a song falls short it usually boils down to it being just a step behind the other incredible tracks on this record.
What UNKLE has done with both of the albums that are part of his The Road series should not be ignored. Very few artists have attempted such stylistically diverse projects and even fewer have achieved them. Even albums that have variety as their thesis statement such as Thrice’s The Alchemy Index series and The Dear Hunter’s The Color Spectrum group songs by their intended genre. UNKLE is doing something almost completely unheard of and he is doing it with a proficiency that is not only admirable, but completely mind blowing.