Thursday, June 14, 2012

The Young - Dub Egg LP (Matador)

Youth: the period of possibility, room to grow, and spitfire resolve. The Young’s debut album, Voyager of Legend, released in 2010 on Mexican Summer, harbored all the emergent exuberance you could hope for in a first record. It was a combination of spritely hooks and a kind of musical formidability, like, say, punkers suddenly released from their genre shackles of enforced simplicity to find a newfound freedom in developing some chops.

To call their sophomore LP, Dub Egg a slump would be to abuse a critical cliche in dire need of being checked anyhow. A regression towards the mean may be more what I, ahem, mean. There is no slump without an amazing production to precede it, and how can we in good faith demand this to be consecutively met or exceeded when so many variables are uncontrollable and downright intangible? Perhaps it is not the failure of the artist, but an inflated expectation of the public that capitulated this idea in the first place. Although it speaks to an investment in the band—no doubt laced with good intent—overt disappointment here is as selfish as it is counterproductive; a band worth its salt needs the aforementioned room to grow.

Such should be afforded to The Young. Their titling is not making it easy to avoid the paternal-leaning metaphoric overtones, and neither does the fact that the album feels as if it is trying to harness a sound one size too big for its britches, exposing that youthful inclination to want to grow up too fast. Dub Egg excels in its musicianship, but presents an almost overbearing resemblance to worn again rockers such as Crazy Horse and The Byrds.

But Dub Egg does retain hints of what made Voyager of Legend so special and what we can bet on seeing more of in the future. The opening riff on “White Cloud” hits you without warning, “Don't Hustle for Love” espouses a smart sentiment, and everything works perfectly on the album closer “Talking to Rose.” In fact, the album is just fine on its own. Only alongside its predecessor does disappointment surface. Growing pains, natch.
Elizabeth Murphy

from Agit Reader