Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Wild Beasts - Present Tense

'Saving grace' is quite the striking but overruling phrase to apply to any form of creative output. By default, it takes to the eclectic of material that came before as merely unsatisfactory, or perhaps unfulfilling in the context of the times and certain mood of the moment. In the scope and context of British rock however, five to six years ago, saving graces were pretty much scarce in their number and scarcer still in their lasting appeal; 'rock' as we'd come to see it in these isles had resorted to no more than a placeholder for bands whose only real dent on musical culture was that they'd further upped the appeal having a great big 'The' strapped to your name, brought you. Yes, the media are all too accountable for vying to base this country's recent out-pour on appearance and energy rather than underlining content, but there's no doubt (as I like to call it) Glastonbury-tier rock (as opposed to just calling it commercial/mainstream/well-known) has been an inside job when looking at the root of the genre's rot over the past half-decade. It makes bands like Wild Beasts then all the more enticing, not just because their sound over the course of five active years and three well-received albums has lent itself to clashing with the established repertoire of indie rock's 'rawness', but with it, the band have shown that scope shouldn't be measured only by size or swagger, but more-so by its opposition: simplicity and subtlety.

Few albums attempt (and perhaps gamble) with the assertion that less = more in the same way Wild Beasts' forth album, Present Tense, does. And while the band haven't exactly been ones to exert themselves on guitar payloads or percussive exertion across the breadth of their discography, the presence of a more cocooning, spacious stripping-back remains (even in this era of music) a feature that, on paper, could likely leave a brandishing of some underlining con to the band's narrative pro's. Yet, for all its supposed risk, Wild Beasts' lack of an atypical 'rock' set-up - of that guitars, drums, vocals norm (all of which are wrapped up in some stereoscopic burst post-production) - by no means lands the record leaning on crutches. Wanderlust, as energized as it is in its pulsating bass synth and waltzing drum hits, is not without its distinct void of traditional instrumentation. And while this is quickly apparent, it by no means deplores Wild Beasts' song-writing as any less resounding in its emotive effect. Hayden Thorpe's voice is what highlights the track's true beauty. Amidst a flurry of MIDI-controlled choirs, his stance as both this honest, laid-bare lyricist but also of this cynical, abrupt antagonist - 'Don't confuse me with someone who gives a fuck/In your mother tongue, what's the verb to suck?' - marks as an interesting paradigm, but one with which he delves brilliantly into. And aided on by the track's increasingly nightmarish tone in the closing parts shows how rich such simply-crafted tracks can appear.

Nature Boy shortly after finds Thorpe shift in parenthesis to baritone vocals that while initially more seductive and enduring are no less enthralling in their alignment with the track's crisp, unfiltered detail of percussion, as well as the building of harmonics (organic and synthesized alike) that bring to light, more-so in the case of what follows, another crucial part of the record's true beauty: its sheer scale in both depth and attraction. No track proves this better than the warm-if-isolated sound of Mecca - the track's sensitively ushering synth lines and Thorpe's overflowing voice cascading down onto the track on numerous emotional levels. And despite the obviousness of the track's physically limitation to that, again, of note-for-note drums and spread-over electronics, the psychological outcome from such sonic treatments - as demonstrated by Julia Holter last year, and similarly in Tom Krell's sophomore a couple of years back - inherits all the hallmarks of a vast landscape or tundra with which the spacious anxiety at the track's heart, cleverly treats with narrative ease but so too with a troublesome weight of emotional difficulty.
It's interesting then to listen through to Thorpe's lyrics - of simple-grounded, more-than-overdone concepts regarding love, desire, compassion...and yes, even sex - and find, in examples such as Sweet Spot, that Thorpe's metaphoric listing-off's in moving 'between the womb and end...between the bone dry and the dripping wet' don't at all sound tiresome or even off-putting. Again, on paper the sheer lack of poetic or even excitable word-play could get faces painting a very comedic or disapproving picture, but at the same Thorpe goes to neither extreme to indulge in any unwanted riddling or pretension of terminology. Because of this stripped-away, unfiltered, unmasked honesty, the track's stemming melody gives Thorpe's resonance that greater degree of empathy and understanding.

Glimpsing solely at the track-titles, it wouldn't be a stretch to guesstimate a good chunk of the album may end up divulging on such matters, and perhaps - if the music up to this point is any indication - the front-man vows to take the intimate (both physical and emotional variant) route so as to involve his listener on an aesthetic level as much, so obviously, on a verbal level. But whoever the primary target marker lands on, Thorpe never loses sight of his own internal direction; of where it is he himself as a singer - a human being - is homed in on, and the album's overwhelming ethereal effect thereafter never loses an ounce of its self-reflective quality. Pregnant Pause's melting piano chords offer a tender and enclosed pause in accompanying Thorpe's voice, and while the front-man doesn't interject the same level of targeted scrutiny, the track's blurring of keys and bass lines do highlight that eyes-shut, sealed-away focus wherein nothing unchecked branches out, yet at the same time the outside World is far from ignored. A Simple Beautiful Truth, while keeps hold to that luminescent, interior preset - with its centralizing, four-wall surroundings giving the bobbing key offerings and nestling guitar strums a greater acoustic shape, the feeling of calm in a perhaps tense, less-than-desired state of mind is what keeps this song from sounding too distant or overwrought. But it's the track's greater focus on its groove and rhythm - wonderfully managed by Thorpe's lyrical sway amid its chorus sections - that generates that impulsive, but warming uplift of mood.

A Dog's Life perhaps could be seen, and marked down unfortunately, as the only tiny, minor misfire across the album's lush imaginative use of space. Though there is some continuing intrigue with the use of gentle guitar strums and percussion that tumbles down and is picked up with as much the same crystal-clear definition, there is a niggling feeling afterwards that despite the impressive appliance of reverb and other effects atop synthesizers and the combining of instrumental layers around it, the track appear to reach the same emotional intensities as with previous tracks - tracks, more apparent, that achieved it so much more easily, with lesser substance on their palette. Past Perfect fortunately brings back the focus on groove in a strikingly high-brow expression of twanging guitar strings and flutters of bass that blend into Thorpe's own painterly quality to his voice; seeming to blend marvelously into the music's charmful personality as much as it brings to light, despite its subtlety, the delicateness of the band's guitar playing.

But no solitary piece is as withdrawn, as expansive, and thus as captivating in its awe as the track New Life so brilliantly illustrates with but a handful of chords and joint trade of electronic instruments gracing the backdrop to Thorpe's slow-crawling vocal delivery. It's without question one of Wild Beasts' most striking and affectionate compositions to date, but it's also - surprisingly - a song, a sound, that deliberately stands at a cross-roads regarding its overall subjective suggestion. In one instance it sounds dreamy and everlasting, in others like it's the result of a horrific event of which has left the World around it still frozen in position. Yet despite its ambiguity, because of Thorpe's eventual rise to the forefront as well as the reveal of percussion and rising backing harmonies, no matter whether the scenery is of a positive or negative nature, there's no taking away from the eclipsing scale and magnitude with which, amazingly, is achieved by no more than just a solitary, compressed, effect-treated drone of keys. And with album closer Palace, Thorpe's return to grey-area lyrics - 'In detail you are even more beautiful than from afar...if this is a palace then that was a squat' - is again completely devoid of any disdain outputted from the listener's perspective via said singer's lush interjection of longing and intimate engagement. More-so, the track's sloping arpeggios and glowing synthesizers give Thorpe's eventual falsetto outbursts that greater length of ambition and just desire - a feat equaled by the organic instrumentation in both piano and drums alike that, while less visible in the mix, strive just as much to send Wild Beasts' sound off on an undeniably warming high.

Thus, it's within the space of these eleven tracks, and of forty-plus minutes of the band's most striking, most honest, and most immersing efforts to date, that this new-found synthetic simplicity gives Wild Beasts the wings to escape their hardened shell, and lift off towards more graceful planes of song-writing. Not in some while has a vocalist in Hayden Thorpe provided so much of an enticement to lower one's self into a sound as complete as Beast's own, with the intention to feel both a part of the musical mass, but also vow to imagine one's self standing beside the band like in some late-night privilege of a live performance wherein the performance and the execution are at their most crucial, but most honest more-so. Present Tense not just excels on both these counts with its hand-crafted, carefully-considered resonance of arrangement and composition, but from start to finish, there's never a moment where the record's scope of tender synth lines and withdrawn instrumentation isn't met with a feeling of one's own desire to belong. But to do this with such a small and limited measure of notation and arrangement highlights just how inspiring Wild Beasts' crafting of an album falling back on perhaps the biggest tropes of person-to-person subject matter, is. But Wild Beasts have always been an exception - the saving grace - when it comes to being a 'rock' band identifying with the most passionate and personal of subject matter. But now, they're no longer mere exceptions to the rule. From out this album, they're masters of a new one.
~Jordan Helm


MRD-X: Drull 25/02

Philadelphia’s Drull know how to make a MRD writer listen with intent. Their recording "Last Train to Aberdeen" was featured in our online music (review) festival late last year, and we've been following their every move since.  They have a unique sound, blending chillwave and 80s influenced dream pop. This mix is a range of 80s pop, such as Chaka Khan and Sabrina, to the modern era of Drive-esque electronica, Washed Out, Small Black, and Neon Indian - oh yeah, and you can hear some upcoming unreleased Drull recordings too.

Track list:
1. Drull - Crimson 2.0 (Unreleased) 
2.Neon Indian - Terminally Chill 
3Chaka Khan - I Feel For You 
4. Washed Out - Feel It All Around 
5. Drull - Last Train to Aberdeen 
6. Stacy Lattisaw - Jump To The Beat 
7. Teen Daze - Four More Years 
8. Drull - Ivory Lock 
9. Houses - Soak It Up 
10. Small Black - Despicable Dogs 
11. Com Truise Sundriped 
12. Drull - Roaming (Unreleased) 
13. Sabrina - Boys (Summertime Love Remix) 
14. Memory Cassette - Asleep At A Party

Thursday, 20 February 2014

Com Truise - Wave 1

When someone mentions the words 'anlogue' or 'retro' or even the vast, expansive denoting of 'the 80's' in its electronic/synth amassing, I myself am not particularly confined to think solely on genres such as chillwave as the go-to for an 80's nostalgia trip. Sure that field does epitomize the analogous, youthful slur of past times and musical fascinations. But at the same time unfotunately, I'm also inclined to associate it with countless more composition enthusiasts resorting to simply googling 'awesome VSTs' and sticking with what they find for their 'research' and idea-generation. Sure, advancing technology helps, but the 80's - in the context of composition - were about way more than just effect processing that merely alludes to more infectuous qualites in the lesser quality, per se. It's more about the at-the-time experiences with technology just, at the time, was just about ready to accept its merely part of a generation status; a stepping stone on a much greater path to some higher plain of artificial replicance. Com Truise takes to the past in more than just this narrow-minded view that a lack of clarity or otherwise reducing of it, defines all. For a time when technicolor was still considered a privillige and sci-fi was only just still in hasn't-really-aged-well territory, New Jersey-born Seth Haley sees the 80's in all its RGB-lit cultural and communicative scope as he does too the tonal and emotive equivalents. 

With 2011's Galactic Melt, though it did have the tag chillwave brandished across its primary-colour slab of visage - the very same tag that genre forefathers Washed Out & Neon Indian mastered with impeccable and awe-struck ease on debut - Com Truise's sound felt far more like a 'present day' sound borrowing from the past rather than the other way round; viscous synthesizers and influences ranging from hip-hop to IDM present in the structures and deliveries, if not within the overriding quirkiness to Haley's electronic playfulness. We're still waiting on a follow-up LP to address any and all questions as to where Truise goes from here, but with Wave 1 - a likely pit-stop on Haley's stellar reverse voyage into the past - there is thankfully signs that while clearly avid in his love for the chunky, brick-heavy sounds of 80's technology, Com Truise is - like so many of late - inspired by other genres lying in this same era to further stretch a given nostalgia trip into a full-blown nostalgia vacation. Wasat's two minute prelude finds Haley immediately incorporate all the fatty excess of his debut LP via engrossing synthesizers that flow nicely into the track's disco-orientated introduction. Thus, Mind lands us comfortably in Com Truise's new-found take of these advents of a once new-found synergy with the dancefloor - implementing them squarely into his palette of stampeding drumbeats and colouful synth hooks darting side to side, but more importantly, brimming with that same voyage of discovery.

But without question, Com Truise's most pinnacly-just recollect and epitomy of everything 80's - both in its melodic nostalgia as well as its liberty of emotion - comes when the voyage is less interstellar motionary and pure-and-simply body-motionar in the shape of liquid-funk, shoulder-bobber Declination which features Joel Ford on pitch-shifted, charm-offensive vocal duty. Not only is this an uncomprisngly rich fluidity in jabbing bass lines and percussion, but amidst the infectuous groove, Haley still finds the space and the room to indulge in a degree of star-gazing synth lines that at points sheen frostily in the backdrop and in others add even more melodic charm to Ford's in-and-out presence atop the rhythm. Subsonic likewise takes to emphasizing the more narrative qualities to analog sound - or rather, the analogous quality to past retro media - in a track that incorporates a lot of present-day electronica's love for glitchy, wonky pacing but places it in and around an analog synth lead that itself reminds me less of currently-trending sub-genres and more in line with something I'd hear on these very same 80's sci-fi flicks or documentaries concerning future technlogy, space or the mystery of other scientific interests. 

Much like 'wonky' leaders in Rustie to name but one fond stand-out, Com Truise's technical wizardry grows stronger in balancing the musical content it graces; the bass flickers and timbral changes on Valis Called (Control) shining light on Haley's production stand-point in achieving this specific two/three-decade old vibe without losing any of the [present day] slickness and clean-cut focus demanded by the track's beats. And with the self-titled Wave 1 sending off the EP in a similarly funk-laiden trip, as if from the stand-point of an old early-generation video game or such, the split between quirky synth composition and the more abstract soundscapes adding colour to the piece don't appear at all conflicting or at logger heads with each other. Thus, from the perspective of Wave 1 as an overall package - as what could be descrbed as Haley's true next-step in the Com Truise moniker - the introduction of similary past-decade sounds in the form of disco and funk here offer a producer who not only holds a fascination with nostalgic sound, but appears to treat it with both respect and a degree of mature venture without compromise. Should we find similar levels of self-advancement both sonically as well as contextually on the next full-length, we all might just have to dig out the old VHS' and flux our minds back to the days when quirky didn't by any stretch equate to uninended wrong-doing.
~Jordan Helm


Illum Sphere - Ghosts Of Then And Now

As the co-founder of Manchester's [hot/cool?] club gathering in the Hoya:Hoya base, DJ and producer Ryan Hunn knows all too well about the mystifying realm of late-night leisure. Be it the enclosing swarm of natural light, the comfort-level flux between unifying and outright awkward; the magnetizing drive beat patterns and grooves often generate, dancefloor or simple perimeter lounge alike. But no matter the specific locale, Manchester, London, Chicago or New York; there's an underlining aroma and air about scenes such as this at the point wherein both clock hands strike twelve, and all communal hands lift up like some proto-tribal practice in addressing one uniform messge: 'I...we...are ready'. It's an image replicated on the cover to Hunn's debut LP as Illum Sphere, a perhaps potentially misleading figurement of raised arms behind - or perhaps leaning onto - fogged-over, frosted-up dispersion. This eeriness and sense of partial confoundness with one's surroundings as a result is among one of the core themes explored on Ghosts Of Then And Now, a record that takes to the post-midnight affair witn neither alligned nor antagonistic sway.  In such middle-ground neutrality, Hunn's preference and profiling of the evening doctrine - of the environments, cultures, actions and movements that emerge from such a situation - is neither tainted by effect, yet still manages to cascade in recognizably darker-shaded production present in a lot of modern day, sole-trading electronica.

And yet, bizarrely, it doesn't; the proliferating terms of dark, dense or confounding do persist on this record, but in a way that - as we explore the many fashioned surroundings of Hunn's sound - don't appear to fit the trope of this moody, atmospheric setting of urban/after-dark sounds. The withdrawing piano keys and cinematic spries on opening track Liquesce do instantly give first-timers (and perhaps old-timers from the years when Illum Sphere's EP's were more outspoken and encompassing) the sense that Sphere's influence of this brooding, unshackled sound are present, even in a laid back lounge setting as is the track's initial suggestion. But moving onto At Night and the vibe, while keeping to that energizing flutter between vocal and percussive snippets, begins to instill more an active role in its environment rather than being a mere ghostly flicker or after-thought that perhaps this certain sonic treatment would otherwise implore. Sleeprunner then is where Illum Sphere perfectly breaks away from any mitigated norm troubling this sub-field with a babbling synth arpeggio that, together with some accompanying low-end bass and inevitable knob-turning climaxes, reinvogarates the high-scope, intrinsicately-detailed club setting Hunn holds with the utmost degree of both intrigue, and careful calculation.

Even on the album's most acquaint and soulful of offerings as on the densely skewed The Road, Sphere's gelling of downtempo and bass work; of the relaxed and the relinquishing of sub-genre ideals, creates its most anxious - and thus interesting - ideas of the entire album. Here, clunking clicks and textures of percussion are but the solitary keeper in what is a brooding and sparse void of dark ambiance mixed with Shadowbox's vibrant tone of voice that ends up melting from view into what is this elapsing, mirky air of sonics. Follower Ra_Light, while does allow its instrumentation to have a bit more weight and visibility to its presence, still latches (or winds up remaining to be latched) onto the production's tightening clasp of bass rhythms and amplifying distortion that swirls about the mix in some wall or sea of feedback - formless, yet keeps the fine balance between conventional 'light' and 'dark'-grounded electronics a present debate to ponder over. But not all of Hunn's deliveries are entirely fogged-up or deliberately claustrophobic. One of the gratifying attributes to an album such as this - more-so a record that cements its influences in urban-orientated sub-genres such as garage, techno, uk bass and so on - is that when it matters in the case of instrumental delivery and the simplicity of such, Hunn knows how to uncover the solace and stripped-back aesthetic this often entails, without losing any of his previous fortitude in the moodier, ambient-like tread of previous.

It'll Be Over Soon could easily fit into a Nicolas Jaar's track-listing - the mumbling piano chords and simple pop-and-click's of percussion reminding me fondly of some of the American-Chilean's solo stand-outs. And we soon discover in the tracks latter half - tense builds of twisting synths - even in the most nimble and intimate of solitary surroundings, Illum Sphere's particular brand of atmospheric effect is one that can be, impressively, integrated into even the most bare-yet-honest of required locale. Thus, Hunn's directory of musical visage is not limited to the club or perhaps the techno-driven, bass-heavy dancefloor as might have been suggested previous. Moving onto the second half of the album, Sphere's prooving grounds continue to broaden out from the artificial lighting of late nights into more naturally-lit avenues wherein the album's sound begins to take on more testing and differentiating appearences. One Letter From Death therefore could be considered [the first of] Hunn's less-than-decisive attempts at broadening his aesthetic out and unfortunately spreading too thin for any material worth to be fully felt. While the swirling figurement of strings return this time in the company of some slowed-down guitar lines, glazing piano slides and drum beats, the lack of any real brooding (or indeed overriding) atmosphere leaves the track's simplicity stuck in a bit of awkward obviousness.

The late-night wanderings improve though with the self-titled Ghosts Of Then And Now in its tentaive arpeggios and jazz-inspired organs adding an uncanny aroma to Sphere's remanded use of compressing bass and sample-based shifting percussion. But its surreality and degree of suspicion is quickly overshadowed thereafter; amplified by the track's latter surge of vibrant synths and rising mount of electronic tension and rhythmic bursts that what starts perhaps as a humble scenario brought on by lazed curiosity or simply lacking any desire for high-octane or physically demanding territories, soon turns emotively and even mentally engaging in opposing circumstances. Thus, I must (to balance this out) admit that while the minimal starting points, as on tracks like this, do evolve into something explicitly more engaging, there's no hiding Sphere's simplicity on approach does find itself treading too close a line to downtempo's unfortunate circumstances in bordering on uninspiring. Still, moments such as these are few and far between, and even when Hunn's compositions are at a point lacking - or maybe even devoid - of that former eery and/or ethereal overcoat, Sphere still manages to make the most of the transition from texturally-prominent beats to narratively-illustrative melodies. Like Gold Panda last year, despite the sonic and tonal differences, Illum Sphere shares in his fellow countrymen's resonance with particular sound pallettes and ensuring the most important aspect is of the themes and vibes with which extend upon the instrumentation offered.

Thus, Hunn successfully reaches a particular merit in his musical acumilations wherein we return to these sounds in order to dissect and understand them better - the multi-layered, varying densities offering enough of a vagueness for us to become engaged, but not too much so as to continue to soak in the album's primary undergrowth of bass rhythms, percussive mixes and vocal chatter that may or may not be just one small part of what is going on. Lights Out/In Shinjuku is, unfortunately, another scenario where repetition and stability end up landing Illum Sphere in questionable territory as to its desired path and reasons for the listener being left in something of a lonely, solitary stand-point amid densely-crowded hordes and suffles of feedback and supposed activity. Near The End's similarly congested weight however offers a much better delivery in its strikingly dominant groove of bass synths and piano that not only make the listener feel like they're a part of the track's environment, but also - with a bit of quirkiness - home in on the music's own bombastic centre-stage exuberence. Embryonic ultimately best sums up the album's second half shift in its sonic positioning and the way it stands nowhere as near the looming, claustrophobic vibe of a club setting the first half injected on frequent arrival.

The very fact that I reference Jaar & Panda in the same breath shows how far Illum Sphere's breadth and scope of sound can potentially stretch to. And with Ghosts Of Then And Now, Hunn's fusion of accesible, modern-day electronic favourites (both to create and to listen to) - from techno to bass to RnB to downtempo - provide some interesting alternatives to the underlining use of tenser, impending production and mixing to emphasize a given track's particular atmospheric and environmental properties. For certain Hunn isn't declaring or brandishing anymore extreme variants as his peers in this field of more enclosed, contemporary electronica, but for the most part, Illum Sphere's particular generations of sound that require as much interest as they do generate it, are at the very least a welcome and refreshing alternative driven on fascinated, sought-after experimentation to yield surprising results. So while 'enjoyable' remains one of the album's lasting tags coming away from one soltary spin, Illum Sphere's reward - as much as it is our own - lands us with repeated listens fuelled on by further questions, further suspicions and an even greater mystey into just how far this stretch of the darkened imagination in music prodution, can end up taking us.
~Jordan Helm


Tuesday, 18 February 2014

MRD-X: Eddie Gibson 18/02

You may have heard Stefan Carter's fabulous 55 minute tech house mix last week on MRD-X. Well, we were back again on Staffs uni radio station tonight, but this time with a mix by MRD resident Eddie Gibson. This is to bridge the gap between our guest mixers. Below is Eddie's 55 minute set, without the personal touches heard on the radio. Thanks for listening and remember to listen every week at 8pm GMT.

1. Caribou - Sun
2. Panda Bear - Tomboy
3. Aphex Twin - Xtal
4. Ceiling Demons - Every Step Is Moving Me Up
5. Bjork - Hyper-Ballad
6. Venetian Snares - Poor Kakarookee
7. Jon Hopkins - Open Eye Signal
8. Phuture - Acid Tracks
9. Cut Copy - Meet Me In The House of Love

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