reviewed by Kaitlin Ruether
There are so many ways to think of what an EP is. Sometimes it a taste of what is to come, or a playful break from the norm for a handful of songs, or — as with Made of Stars by Young Neighbours — an EP could feel like a short story to the LP’s novel. Young Neighbours explain that they “try to create stories through both the music and the lyrics,” and it shows in the way Made of Stars swoons from thematic and folky to instrumental breathing.
To break it down, the EP is set up by “Made of Stars”’s introduction of the body as a theme. The dual vocals of Eric Pauls and Sarah Houston compliment each other in their restraint. When his voice warmly breaks, she catches him from behind. Just before the three minute mark the beat drops, led by the beep of a heartbeat monitor. We will return to this in a moment.
“Good Enough” also carries an acoustic folk vibe, but is garnished with a melodic flutter that evokes spring and new life amidst the warm Autumn simmering. Here and in the following track — the instrumental “S.C”— the fleshing out is gradual. It’s not so much an expansion or a weightiness, but a presence that becomes more solid and aware as the music breaks open.
The final track is the most experimental and immediately made me think of alien life — perhaps it’s because the sounds are so rhythmically alive, the hum and settle not quite human. All I could imagine as the aptly titled “…” played was a system of organisms breathing together, and I realized that I, too, was breathing with the music. It’s hard not to recall the pulse of the heartbeat monitor from “Made of Stars”, and to wonder what the two lengthy pauses in the breathing mean. As the song ends, there is an unsettled feeling. Perhaps because the end came so far, so subtly, from where Made of Stars began.
In many short stories, the beauty is in the zooming in, the exploration. Young Neighbours seem to focus on what it is to be alive, and how we are composed on a fundamental level, whether it be a heart, lungs, or pure star matter.
Top Track: “Made of Stars”
Rating: Strong Hoot (Good)