It looks like the Young Knives have embraced the uptempo, energetic powerpop sound from the last half of their debut album.
In fact, the first single of their second album, "Terra Firma," shows that they've also gotten a more mature, intricate sound. The song itself is a brilliant little nugget of synth-riddled, breathless rock, but the B-side attached is far less engaging as a song -- too schizophrenic to really stick in the mind.
It opens with a ringing riff unfolding like a black rose, along with some clashy cymbals. After working themselves up, the Young Knives settle into a muscular, catchy dance tune. "I took a good long look at everything I brought/there was a lot to see but still I wanted more/it looks like mother natures got herself a whore/with a disregard for health and safety," Henry Dartnall yowls mournfully.
Then the chorus kicks in -- the tight melody erupts into a synth-ridden, raucous cheer of "Fake rabbit, real snake/Terra firma terra firma!" It pretty much sticks to the fast-powerpop/crazy chorus sound to the end, with the occasional fiery, restrained guitar solo underscored by half-obscured, computerized murmurs. It's over before you're even ready.
Then it's the B-side time -- "Holiday Everyday." After the nimble, energetic "Terra Firma," this is kind of a disappointment -- it's much slower and more uncertain, with relatively random changes in tempo. One minute it's entirely composed of spurts of bass, then what sounds like a Bond theme, then a swaying Britpop anthem. I cannot keep up with this.
I mainly liked the second half of the Young Knives' debut album -- they sound pretty phenomenal when they just let their energy and enthusiasm erupt into those tight powerpop melodies. When they hold themselves back, it just doesn't gel. So if the rest of "Superabundance" sounds anything like the more complex, muscular sound of "Terra Firma," I shall be a happy girl.
Lots of catchy guitars intermingled with thumping bass, lots of solid beat-keeping drums with those sharp-edged riffs and loops of synth wound around them. Second song: periodic spurts and cascading riffs, but I have to admit that the sinuous sixties-style solo in the middle of it is very enjoyable. I could almost see James Bond pointing his gun.
And God bless Dartnall, he sounds like he's having a great time -- he sings nicely, with a hint of a wail and a yowl in his voice, right before bursting into hard-edged "Fake rabbit, real snake!". And the indictment of crazy, greedy living could have used a couple more stanzas, but hey, it's pretty well-written as it goes ("a world of wonder lies beyond the door/take the first right into town where I am sure...").
Despite a very lackluster B-side, the Young Knives sound good and enthusiastic in the "Terra Firma" single. Here's hoping the rest of the album is this solid.