Sunday 22 September 2013
Young Galaxy // Ultramarine
Of all the Polaris Prize 2013 short listed albums, Young Galaxy‘s Ultramarine is the one the one that I’ve written the most about this year. It’s feels like I’m flogging a dead horse taking another go at it, having run out of new things to say and new angles to explore. In fact, in prepping for this post, I found that most reviews and articles written about Ultramarine cover the same basics: for album four they decamped to Sweden to work with Shapeshifting‘s producer Dan Lissvik in person; Catherine McCandless assumes sole singer duties and does a heck of a job as front woman; the neo-pyschedelic sounds and sprawling jams of the eponymous debut are now a long distant memory, replaced by sparkling synth-pop that’s tightly focused and aimed at getting people up on the dance floor; and the album plays its best hand up front, as its opening three tracks all rank among the year’s best singles.
What I think gets short shrift is Ultramarine‘s honesty, its shameless love and appreciation for a genre that too often gets dismissed as being soulless and disposable. If you’ve heard their recent non-album single “Crying My Heart Out” you know what I’m talking about. Ultramarine is the best celebration of new love, new summers, and New Order I’ve ever heard. Young Galaxy do principled pop, respecting its structures and traditions, but never sound like they’re rehashing former glories (theirs or others). “Fall For You” and “Out the Gate Backwards” are built on tested and tried styles (calypso/reggae rhythms and Madchester soul, respectively), but like the best artists, Young Galaxy filter their influences through their own unique and personal lens. The result is a record that’s sometimes sad, sometimes sunny, sometimes nerdy, but always necessary.
Young Galaxy’s Ultramarine was released on April 23, 2013 by Paper Bag Records.
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