Yung’s “first” internationally released full album, ‘A Youthful Dream’, continues out the same guitar-string as 2014’s ‘Falter’ (of which some might know a few tracks via the international 2015 EP ‘Alter’ – or just via Spotify, which makes the whole “international debut”-buzz slightly overrated) and 2015’s ‘These Thoughts Are Like Mandatory Chores’, but it still leaves space for some chilling afterthoughts on growing up.
I first listened to Yung’s new album on a long, sunny drive on the highway, going home in a minibus with a bunch of other people, all tired after a long trip. As the conversation died out during the first two kilometers, I slipped on my headphones and looked out at the blurry flow of passing traffic and slipped into the guitar-driven soundscape of A Youthful Dream.
Normally, in a car, music is a shared experience on the car stereo, but as we drove and I could see on the mouths of everybody else that they partook in a new conversation while I was in a cloud of fuzz, and it struck me how well ‘A Youthful Dream’ suited the chosen isolation that the headphones put me in. A sort of melancholia that can be perversely stimulating to put on sometimes.
In regards to the previous sounds from the band, at first it seemed to me that the recipe has remained unchanged on this album. Still smash-bang guitar strumming all over the place, as is tradition from a long line of the 90’s quirky punk that Yung are heavily inspired by, both in the songwriting and in the mix. But something was still different. Like a subtle change to grandmothers meatball-recipe. Not so much in the mixing of the whole thing – it sounds like they mastered it while listening to Neutral Milk Hotels’ ‘In an Aeroplane Over the Sea’ – but in the matureness of it all.
The album opens almost playfully with “The Hatch”, defined by driving melodic riffs heaped on to of each other, this formula proceeds trough the following tracks – peaking in the previously released single track ‘Uncombed Hair’ that ends with a change in time – literally, from 4/4 to 6/4 – and from then on the introversion slowly tightens its grip trough ‘Morning View’ and ‘A Bleak Incident’. The ironically happy-go-lucky sounding ‘Commercial’ that ends in complete dis-composition as a lead up to ‘Pills’, suggests a criticism of the consumer society, but more interestingly it can be heard as part of the bigger picture on the album that culminates in the almost hostile loneliness of the finishing ‘suite’.
This ‘suite’ is made up of the three tracks: ‘Not the Sound of Being O.K.’, the instrumental track ‘Silece’, and the title track of the album – the three are tied together like a finishing mini-requiem for the Youthful Dream that, paradoxically, makes Yung sound more grown-up than ever. The overall short spacing between the songs helps keeping the initial drive from ‘The Hatch’ going throughout the album, and it makes you want to listen to it all in one go.
I personally like it when an album sounds like just that: An album. That is, a full circle of tunes that can function alone, but that at the same time work together to form some sort of coherence. Not necessarily a nice and tidy coherence, mind you, but something that gives the impression of being an actual work of art ( – getting a sneaky feeling that I’m about to open a whole can of whoop-ass aesthetics discussions, so better just leave that there).
The weakest point to my ears were the lyrics. Sure, there might be some sort of punk-aesthetics idea in letting the vocal blend with the rest of it all and just let its muddy chaotic noise reign as a choir to the inherent emptiness of everything, but whenever the (rather handsome, I have to say) vocals do come up for air, as for example in ‘Morning View’, it seems to be just to produce flat and overworked methaphors: “Rise now, this nice morning view, by the end of the day it will be pitch dark”; or these “tell-it, don’t show it”-lines from ‘The Child’: “He will change his mind a million times, he will change his mind in front of your eyes, because nothing can stop him, In his mind he’s still a child”.
Musically, Yung come off as promising daredevils surfing some obscure undercurrent, and it would be nice to see that transcend into the lyrical universe as well.
That being said, however, this album should be in all of your ears next time you are taking a stroll trough the city to look at its various stages of life and decay.
"Not the sound of being O.K. - The sound of something more." (4.5/6)