Thursday, 8 September 2011

Album Review: Young Galaxy - Shapeshifting

I'm ashamed. It's been quite some time since I last updated. Too long, in fact. Like a rain drought that stubbornly refuses to quench the thirst of desperate crops. Ha. I wish I was important like rain. Damn these delusions of grandeur.

Anyway, a little aural escapism should do me some good. I need a break from the big bad world, and no abstract fills the void like the safe-house of music.

Another Canadian group for my liking! This is Vancouver's Young Galaxy, and I actually discovered this band pretty soon after my explosive obsession with Austra (once again, I emphasize my appreciation to  After beating out the first initial impressions of their 3rd album, Shapeshifting (2011) from "ooh!" to "hmm" as the album plays through, I've decided that Young Galaxy have become quite pleasing to my ears, and have grown a fondness for their interesting style and timbre of music.

Now at first, you may feel as though a lot of the songs off Shapeshifting are dance tracks that have been tended to with warm, damp cotton wool. I mean that in the best sense, because although this album feels energetic and inviting, their tempo isn't agile enough for you to go all out with your groove on. With complex bass lines and rhythms that play a prime role in their tunes, there's a great deal of generic exploration, and you should look out for the experimentation with bells and triangles throughout their songs that play on the ethereality that fuels their dream-pop vibe. There's a definite layered concoction of different musical styles coming through in Shapeshifting however, with a mixture of synth-pop reverbs and effects with indie-rock guitar riffs, and even a positive conflict with a wee bit of jazz reminding me of Sade - but this can be rooted down to Catherine McCandless creamy yet forceful vocals. Just to further add to this bizarre but brilliant combination of sounds, there's a clear incorporation of tropical drum cadence - especially in songs like "Cover Your Tracks" which are joyfully celebrated through Shapeshifting being produced by Studio's D. Lissvik.

All of these tracks really scope on the upbeat-yet-chilled vibes that build their unique style, and although some of their lyrics are a little hippie ("I believe there's a meteor out there with my name on it, hurtling through space but nothing can stop it" in Blown Minded), there is a great deal of difference and distinction to each tune I do hate albums that sound like one big song. 

There's a definite similarity in The Angels are Weeping (feat. Hanna) with some of The Knife's earlier stuff, with the slow and quite sensual hand-clap sounds that pulse the rhythms, drawing upon the toned-down, not-quite dance sound that taunts your inability to fully shake your booty. Although, in this case, slow and steady wins the race. Not to mention, Stephen Ramsay's unique vocals that dominate this splendid tune really feel like the cherry on top.

Other tunes such as Blown Minded  titillate your ear drums with a tidbit of 80s synth sounds that have bass lines similar to How To Destroy Angels, minus the obvious industrial NIN influences. However, one feeling I can't seem to push about Catherine's vocals is how they oftten remind me of Sarah Mchlachlan, which I don't always feel works with Young Galaxy's instrumental style. However saying that, Peripheral Visionaries works brilliantly as a jazzy duet of male and female voices, that feel nonchalant and weightless against upbeat rhythms that elevate, and remind me of sunshine.

I have to say though, my favourite on this album has to be Phantoms. As the song begins, whether your sitting with your laptop or walking around the kitchen, there's a gratifying, uncontrollable urge to swing your hips to the sexy rhythms and Spanish guitars that make you feel under-dressed without a rose in your mouth. Alluring flamenco styles tend to have that effect on me. What a lovely song.

Give this album a go.

And just because I'm lovely, and it's taken me over a week to update, I've embedded one of their music videos for instant musical satisfaction.

Enjoy my lovers.

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