on 13 April 2007
I've had this album on my wish list for some time, based on the reviews here telling tales of complex stop-start dynamics, long hard-to-understand songs and the fact that i found my way here via 65daysofstatic, one of most revolutionary and awesomely interesting bands of modern/all times. So when it turned out these guys would be supporting 65dos this spring i decided this must be something i should have in my collection and finally ordered a copy.
So ill start by saying that this album really isnt what i thought i was getting when i orderd it. I was expecting something a bit mad, interesting, noisey, intelligent, something with contrasting heavy and soft, with bizarre time signatures that would assault my ears and ultimately be something id be amazed by. Maybe my expectations were too high.
First things first, Youthmovies aren't noisey...at all, in fact they're frustratingly lacking in noise at times. Actually its a pretty chilled out afair in general, the majority of the songs being drifty, meandering atmospheric afairs with little diversions here and there where there's a bit more guitar action, the aformentioned 'spazy sax' passage and some slightly more hardcore-esque snippets, as for the mad stop-start dynamics and songs changing dramatically at a moments notice, maybe i ordinarily listen to music that's a lot more dynamic in that respect than the other reviewers here, because on Hurrah! Another year... its really not that much of a big deal. However, this observation in itself is not the problem, the meandering atmospheric stuff is quite nice in general, my problem is the sound itself, its just so feeble. The ideas in the songs would probably be pretty cool if they were backed up by something with a bit of oomph and energy, anything, heavy guitars, mad drums, interesting vocals, more ska/hardcore type stuff, something urgent and climactic, anything. The guitars could not at any point be described as heavy, just kind of twanging away, even at the big (...well as big as they get) crescendo where you want to be really rocked, twangy twang twang. Secondly the vocals are too poppy, reminding me on occasion of either Tom York of RadioHead fame (not really my cup of tea but still could be worse) or, more irritatingly, the guy from The Killers, who i don't ever want to know anything about.
The final nail in the coffin is when towards the end of the album your ears prick up and your blood starts to rise, what's this track? you ask, It's got energy and tension? Im feeling moved? curiosity reaching a peak...and it turns out that easily the best track on the album is a 65daysofstatic remix of Spooks the Horse. Hmmm...
All in all you could compare Youthmovies with a mish-mash of Oceansize, RadioHead and Yourcodenameis:Milo (who also disappointed compared to what i'd read), and i suppose Mogwai isn't a million miles away, although all these bands are actually heavier than youthmovies - with the exception of RadioHead - just so you're aware. So if these kind of things are your bag, and you dont really like heavier, noisier music, you'll probably quite appreciate Hurrah! Another year..., but if like me you came here via 65dos and you're more a post-rock/noiscore type (Pelican, Isis, Neurosis, Beecher etc.) and you prefer bands to do something dramatic at some point, then id probably steer clear as the weak sound and lack of emotional conviction will probably leave you feeling a bit numb.
Not terrible by any means, with some quite pleasant stuff in it, and if they had taken their sound to the next logical level of intensity would probably be pretty awesome, but ultimately unsatisfying.