Saturday, July 28, 2012
"Home" by Young Jesus - A Retro-burner full of Poetic Indie Rock
On "Home" - Young Jesus spin musical fables about people who quickly become our distant friends or family. Obviously, we as listeners may never know if the stories, the narratives in these cinematic songs are based on real people but it feels like it and that their trials and tribulations feel like something we can relate to.Young Jesus pour out songs that have different tones, tempos and textures. They move from a strong folk if not garden rock vibe to post punk 90's indie rock and oftentimes a 'David' is mentioned throughout this album. "News" seems to impart that kind of knowledge you hear on "the street" about an old acquaintance of lover. It is wonderful how it starts off easy and slow and explodes into a rockish scream fest, "I heard you sing at The Sovereign slowly... your cover band's just a cover for loneliness." In "Family Friends" the guitar strains seem lost in a fog, while percussive sounds and bass lines fill the empty spaces. The song deceptively builds around around two sentences, repeated over and over until, the first line (at least in my mind) flips from one of hope to despair.
"New Cool" moves like a night out of control as John Rossiter sings, "The cooler kids don't give a shit, they only care for carelessness. They're only style, no substance." It has a 90's indie feel and Rossiter's voice (which, to me, has a touch of Jim Morrison or Nick Cave although much more animated) dashes off remembrances of being young punks. I really love this song. The fact that the song itself has a bit of a retro flavor only works in it's favor. "Away" has passages that are pure runaway rock similar to Japandroids in tone only to give away to dynamic breaks and progressive down beats. "Fallin' for You" with the hand claps and swoony 60's ballad melody feels a little lost (and hollow) when compared to the rest of this album.
Let's put the breaks on this review right now to exclaim that "The Greater Boulders" is the standout, breakout song on "Home." Take this news in slowly like a deep breath. Built on a instantly catchy rock progression and shout out chorus, it's verses are both talky and sung, something you don't hear often but it works. I thought of Cddric Bixler-Zavala for a moment. The song grinds you down and then lulls you into submission with a melodic pre-chorus, "We're all the kids that stuck around. This ugly venom fills our blood. I'm half disturbed, half high as hell, It all makes sense I'm coming up" only to lift you off your feet with a rousing shout-about chorus. It also has this lovely melody on the bridge. If Young Jesus does indeed make movies in your mind, this one has a clear arc to the story. I need to listen to this song about 20 more times.
The title track "Home" is a trippy piece of work. It feel more like more of a public declaration than a song or maybe a confessional of sorts. It almost feels like it is going to erupt into a choral gospel of a song but does something different instead. The lyrics are as mesmerizing as they are confusing, "Give me The National with spiders. Give me The Beatles unenlightened. Prize fighting. with The Velvet Teen for some new Brand New memories on vinyl-burning for the wax. with some quick water on our hands with dust from boulders from our past." I get a sense that the song is about songwriting itself and the metamorphosis artists take willingly and unwillingly to try to please themselves and their audience but, my friends, that is just a guess.
On thing that I do know is that "Home" by Young Jesus is an interesting and endearing album. These songs seem to be about things and ideas and people all wrapped in a bit of musical rock drama and poetry. In my humble opinion there may be a song or two that don't live up to the rest but in it's totality, "Home" is a great album that you need to check out. I am sure that you will listen often.
Young Jesus are: John Rossiter (guitar/vox), Shawn Nystrand (bass), Cody Kellogg (lead guitar) and Peter Martin (drums).
You can stream the digital album "Home" here.