Formed in the Highlands but sucked inexorably into the orbit of the Glasgow music scene, Cuddly Shark is a diverse, alt-rock three piece.
With a name like Cuddly Shark you would expect some entertaining lyrics and this expectation is swiftly vindicated by the opening clatter through ‘SPMG’ and ‘Overpriced’.
Both songs are stirring stuff, mashing up a catchy blend of daft sloganeering and joyously ugly, thrashing guitars but ‘Fiddly Dee’ falls flat, veering from what had been a solid alt-rock opening into a cul-de-sac of screeching violin.
Unfortunately this is indicative of The Road to Ugly’s biggest flaw: its scattergun nature.
A wide-ranging musical palate can be both a blessing and a curse but even though Cuddly Shark is never short of great melodies the album as a whole feels rather awkwardly stitched together.
The taunting acoustic guitar ramble of ‘The Devil in You’ has similarities to Gogol Bordello but it doesn’t really work seguing into the funk rock riff of ‘Out of Sight, Out of Mind’.
Fortunately there are enough great individual moments and an appealing punkish irreverence that allows the trio to transcend their patchy stylisms.
‘Body Mass Index’ is a fantastic single cranking up both the guitars and the humour until it sounds like something Frank Black might have written circa-‘Teenager of the Year’.
‘Pull the Finger Out’ is a brilliant Pixies burnout with catchy guitars while closer ‘Local Hero’ is an excellent hometown ballad to end the album on a high note.
Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water…
Words: Max Sefton