As Canadian musicians put out more and more electronic music, there seems to now be an attempt to get back to nature amid the synthetic sounds of synthesizers. There have been plenty of electronic albums that have been emotional albums. But bands like Pick a Piper and now Gold & Youth take that emotion a step further. Natural and synthetic are becoming more closely related than ever.
With a name like Beyond Wilderness and song titles like “Palm Villas,” “Tan Lines” and “Daylight Colours,” it’s clear what image this Vancouver-based group is trying to evoke. Songs will occasionally harken to nature beyond the act of naming, with tropical guitar riffs and the occasional primal-sounding yell.
“Little Wild Love” is a good example of the nature-inspired sound, featuring the occasional ping of a synth that sounds like water dropping, a great mingling of guitar and synth and some dual-vocal “aahs” which are always pleasant sounds to hear.
“Tan Lines” stays true to its name with it sunny and warm atmosphere, with its lazy-summer-day guitar riffs laid over softened synthesizers.
Gold & Youth aren’t above being a little ambient as well. “Cut Lip” is a song that succeeds in creating a contemplative mood. The main vocals are present but barely distinguishable, allowing the listener to fill in images in their own heads. “Come to Admire” also creates quite the atmosphere, and the additional yells and drums that sound like something out of Phil Collins make this one of the album’s standout tracks.
Speaking of standout tracks, “Young Blood” manages to pump up the energy near the album’s close. While some of the album’s earlier tracks might inspire a dance party or two, it’s this one that should make even the reluctant listener bob their head or swivel in their seat. It’s infectious and fast synth-pop that maybe the band could have included a little bit more of on the album, but even the little bit is well worth hearing.
“Jewel” serves as an intense centrepiece to the album, forgoing the tropics for something much darker, heavier and more emotional. Louise Burns’ vocal presence is definitely at its best here, and the additional vocals from Matthew Lyall later complete the puzzle.
“Palm Villas” is also an interesting song to note, one that almost completely forgoes electronics to show that the band can create songs without keys that are still uniquely Gold & Youth. Opener “City of Quartz” and closer “Time to Kill” seem to act like bookends, with both featuring a steady build.
To put a spin on an old cliché, much that glitters is Gold & Youth. Beyond Wilderness is available tomorrow, May 14, via Arts & Crafts.
Top Tracks: “Quarters”; “Come To Admire”; “Young Blood”
Rating: Strong Hoot (Good)