Tuesday, 18 February 2014

Blitz Kids - The Good Youth

I'm faced with two albums to review on the same night, St. Vincent's self-titled fourth album, and Blitz Kids' third album The Good Youth. Now there’s absolutely no comparison between the music here, and on initial listens, they're worlds apart. Annie Clark's authentic music ranges from the art of Talking Heads to the sophistication of Nina Simone, and it's exciting every time she releases new music. On the other hand - Blitz Kids. Yeah, it's that time where personal preference and taste takes over from the he said she said load of crap you'll find in the Kerrang! magazine on the shelf. You may not think it and you may not notice it, but objectivity has its way with certain music, and it's up to us middle-men to assemble a crack team of researchers to determine the validity and quality of The Good Youth. And I’ve got to say (to avoid you some unfortunate harsh words,) leave, because this isn't going to be nice.

Genres can be a great guideline for music, but sometimes they can conflict with the nature of the recording process. Not every singer-songwriter is folk, and not every folk artist is a singer-songwriter. Blitz Kids take their name from an era (disputed in interviews) more than a genre, known as new romanticism - essentially a blend of new wave / synth pop, with people who care more about what they wear than how their music sounds - i.e. Gervais' Seona Dancing (which was actually pretty good, but serious.. Bowie-core.) Now it's for kids wearing Bowie shirts with Morrissey haircuts, having too much of an obsession with artists which would be considered stalking in the working world. Now we know Blitz Kids are not new romantics, as their music shoots well-wide from what would be considered Adam Ant, or Ultravox. Blitz Kids are one of the many bands grouped as punk/emo - this pretty much sums them up. If you're expecting post-hardcore like At the Drive In, or Fugazi, you're way off the mark. Even the post-hardcore rejuvenation like The Men or even Cloud Nothings is nothing like Blitz Kids. They're the punk scene band who has more of an influence from listening to Blink-182 and My Chemical Romance, than chilling out to American Football or Glassjaw. Just like The 1975 from last year, Blitz Kids have been listening to too much Fall Out Boy, they're just not original enough.

The Good Youth isn't necessarily a bad album. On an extended listen, some tracks ("Sold My Soul", "Title Fight") come across as interesting. Others like "On My Own" split that opinion. There's a forced chorus which seems too purposeful and decided upon, outweighing the guitars which actually sound solid. Then there’s the ‘what the fuck is this’ track "Keep Swinging"... It's again; forced, leaving me, the listener, wanting for more than an unoriginal pop structure with a cringe-worthy electronic string riff. They sound like a deformed Temper Trap trying too hard to chart, than an alternative rock band with a foot in emo.

The main bulk of The Good Youth could easily been thrown away and re-made with something more innovative, or at least less bullshit driven. "Sometimes" lends from Bloc Party's "Banquet", and doesn't really do much to step out of this Strokes-esque opening. Simple guitar music on top of electronic drum beats with a vocal which sounds, absolutely terrible, I mean you couldn't really sing any worse than this. But vocalist Joe James really can... Check out "Long Road", a track which (with a bit of creative input) could actually sound good. James' singing reaches for this American sound he and I know doesn't work - but it sells. It's as if he wants to be in a Californian pop-punk so badly, that he'll actually sing like one. Now influence is one thing, but when you're replicating bands that have come before to an extreme with very little extra, you're pretty much an XFactor contestant... I quote this so often, but Chumbawamba's The Boy Bands Have Won can be used to combat this kind of music - The Only Thing That You Can Do to Music That Will Damage It Is Not Change It, Not Make It Your Own. Because Then It Dies, Then It's Over, Then It's Done, and the Boy Bands Have Won. Blitz Kids are essentially a 'boy band' playing a genre, a field knowing full well the audience they're playing to, and the audience they'll get. There's not one flake of innovative creativity to separate them from the rest of the pack. The fan of Blitz Kids are defined by a set of artists, I won't name them because it's too obvious and hurtful to constantly pound these emo/alt-rock/post-hardcore bands for doing something they love. The music may be mediocre at best, but they're doing it for the scene, the fans, and the post-80s punk ethic which has evaporated in to emo and goth. 

When The 1975 released their self-titled debut album last year, it was coveredaccurately by us (if I may say so). They're emo, but with various influences in post-punk and shoegaze. It allows The 1975 to develop, and the future looks bright for them because they have layered guitars for the shoegaze, and LCD Soundsystem referencing lyrics. Blitz Kids don't have these additional influences to offer something extra. They're one dimensional and will stay that way. The Good Youth never really shows the potential some critics boast about. This is popular emo music for a rock audience. Blitz Kids are the copycat unoriginals - the Bastille's of indie rock, the Mumford & Sons' of folk, and the One Direction's of pop - just another emo band waiting to either fade away or grow up. It's used for nostalgia, but the listeners of The Good Youth are exactly that, youths. You wouldn’t expect a 90s Blink-192 fan to really rave about Blitz Kids because they would've grown up. It's for the 13 - 17 bracket of listeners who still believe this music is the greatest.. of all time. And there's nothing wrong with that, but at some point in time they'll look back and realise how entry-level and basic Blitz Kids are. Sure, that's just my opinion, but there’s nothing here to suggest otherwise. It's blatantly poor and incredibly repetitive - music for the dull end of emo, and that's degrading enough...
~Eddie Gibson  



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