Thursday, April 30, 2009

Youth Group album review

Youth Group
The Night is Ours
(Ivy League/World’s Fair)

Influenced by Teenage Fanclub and fronted by a vocalist whose inviting timbre recalls James’ Tim Booth, this Sydney quartet got a leg up in America a few years ago when it signed to Epitaph Records. Two songs (“Shadowland,” sublime Alphaville cover “Forever Young”) were prominently featured in episodes of “The O.C.” A main stage slot at the Coachella Festival in Indio , Calif. and tours with Death Cab for Cutie and Coldplay ensued.

Traces of The Church and Snow Patrol can be felt in the melancholic alt-pop heard on fourth effort The Night is Ours, originally released in Australia last summer. Recorded inside a decommissioned ship near home, the location obviously had an effect on leader Toby Martin since the soothing “Dying At Your Own Party” boasts nautical lyrics.

An upbeat “Two Sides” (Death Cab’s Chris Walla adds guitar and vocals; he also mixed four tunes) revisits Joy Division territory with icy keyboards as Martin wonders, “have you come to dance or die?” On the winsome “All This Will Pass” jangly guitars at the fore find Youth Group channeling early Smiths.

Later, mournful New Orleans horns propel the stately “Babies in Your Dreams,” Martin name checks poet Allen Ginsberg on the gorgeously haunting “In My Dreams” and “What is a Life” (already featured on TV’s “Gossip Girl”) is a reflective mid-tempo rocker, enriched by a careening string section.

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