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'Youthmovies- Good Nature' review for Audioscribbler


Youthmovies: Good Nature


Label: DrownedInSound
Date Released:

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Simon Jay Catling

When Magdalen Bridge, the opening track on Youthmovies (née Youth Movie Soundtrack Strategies) debut offering, takes over four minutes to build up in a stream of burbling noise and strained sound, you just know that either you’re about to listen to something utterly incredible, or something that will completely fall flat on its face. This debut album has been a long time coming from the Oxford five-piece since their formation back in 2002. A couple of EPs not withstanding, it’s been in the live arena that they’ve mainly been learning their craft- supporting the likes of 65 Days Of Static and lead vocalist Andrew Mears old band Foals. All the while the hype around them has slowly built and built, much like their songs: rumours abounded of a heavier sounding Foals, of fusions of different styles, of soaring eight minute epics. Well finally we’ve reached the point of no return; do any of those pre-conceptions ring true? You don’t know the half of it.

Right from preceding single The Naughtiest Girl Is A Monitor it’s clear that this band are onto something special. Within its four minutes forty six seconds lies more creativity, more musical diversity, than a Courteneer could come up with in a career; even more impressive is the ease at which the band seamlessly switch gears between styles; from post-rock to power punk via a good staple of danceable rhythms and po-going verses. It’s astounding. Next track Soandso & Soandso (which in fact happens to be one of two eight minutes plus epics on this ten track album) splashes us with tight angular guitars, thrown like paint, against a wall of background scuzz and distortion; however added to this mix, is a brass section! And you know what? It really works- the arrangements compliment rather than smother the rest of the music, and this is a trait regularly seen throughout the album. A lot of bands attract praise for displaying ideas and styles in abundance, but where many fail is in managing not to overload the listener with all of them at once; Youthmovies carefully pick and choose where they’re going to go next in their sprawling epics. However, they do this with much more warmth and feeling than their more pop-tastic but colder blooded peers Foals- what will give this more energy? What’s going to compliment the previous three minutes I’ve just played?

This set of songs come across as being loveably and painstakingly created, akin to a fine piece of art though as opposed to an Airfix model. This is not to say that Youthmovies can’t keep it short and direct when needed though; there’s enough short bursts of energy here to supplement the longer tracks like the aforementioned Soandso & Soandso and Something For The Ghosts. The Last Night Of The Proms simmers and seethes, sounding as though it’d find favour with Kerrang! readers as much as it would with those of the drain pipe jean wearing NME loving variety. It helps of course that they’re all excellent musicians; drummer Graeme Murray switches time scale easily, providing both subtlety and drive in equal measure when needed, with Stephen Hammond on bass stoically giving a helping hand, and allowing Mears and English on guitar with Stephen Scott on brass free reign to cut and shape the twisted, beautiful journey they choose their music to take. This is never more apparent than on sixth track, and arguably the pinpoint of the whole album, If You’d Seen A Battlefield which writhes and thrashes around in so many different directions that you couldn’t possibly expect it to fit together, and yet, somehow, it does.

As Mears wearily claims ‘it’s not going well it’s not going badly, it’s just going on’ he’s joined by simple but effective drums, bass and a solitary guitar, before all of a sudden all hell breaks loose and once again we’re off into angular art rock territory; yet how can art rock bring to mind the likes of Fall Of Troy? By throwing all of their influences into the cauldron, Youthmovies actually manage to come out with something better: 65 Days Of Static but with more direction, Explosions In The Sky with more bite, Foals with greater depth- and a human, handcrafted feel that’s all of their own. Something For The Ghosts even explores the avant-garde mysticism of the Mars Volta, its nine minutes filled with sprawling solos, howling feedback and vast soundscapes- all the while though it’s kept from crashing into the sun by solid percussion and burbling bass lines. All of this and I’ve not even mentioned the frantic Archive It Everywhere, the methodically brilliant Shh! You’ll Wake It or the rousing closer Surtsey.

What we are dealing here essentially then is a classic, the only track that leaves this short of the full ten marks is the rather uninspiring and mono-paced Cannulae, but then every hurricane has an eye. Youthmovies give us everything here; extravagant prog metal for those who are too cool to admit they like prog metal, shoegazing post-rock for those who like to stare at their feet and absorb the noise thrown at them, undeniably catchy pop punk choruses, and searing rhythms to get the indie kids dancing. All of this is encapsulated in one tight, hour long, coherent package. What am I talking about? This is a masterpiece.

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