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Jeremy Aaron 04/02/09 12:17 PM

Youth Group - The Night Is Ours
Youth Group - The Night Is Ours
Record Label: Worlds Fair Records
Release Date: April 7, 2009


Indie-poppers from Down Under, Youth Group broke through in the U.S. with the Epitaph re-release of their sophomore album Skeleton Jar. The band heightened their stature with the follow-up, 2007's Casino Twilight Dogs, which rode on the success of the single "Forever Young."

How Is It?

The Night Is Ours is not the gorgeous work that Casino Twilight Dogs was, though it definitely has its impressive moments. On this album, Youth Group expand their horizons, experimenting with a slightly more raw sound (for them), and vocalist Toby Martin utilizes his lower register more frequently than in the past. On their earlier albums, even the songs dealing with weightier subject matter had a lighter-than-air feel, and while there are definitely occasions on this record with similar texture, it just sounds heavier overall.

Those expecting to float away like a feather on the breeze to Martin's ethereal vocal will be immediately surprised at the somber tone in which he opens the album on "Good Time," a sparsely accompanied number that eschews the band's typical adherence to traditional song structure. The surprises keep coming with "One for Another," whose driving post-punk rhythm sounds more like Interpol than anything Youth Group have done previously. These changeups are well-executed and indicative of an ambitious and growing band. Less successful are the flitting synths and buzzing guitars that pop up on "Two Sides," which really detract from the feel of the song.

In general, though, the added dimensionality is a positive thing, as evidenced on "Dying at Your Own Party," in which Martin's solemn expression sets the appropriate mood, a feat that would have been impossible using his classic fluttering croon. The band really puts it all together on the album's centerpiece, "All This Will Pass," the perfect single, featuring catchy reverb-y guitars and a straight-forward memorable hook, with Martin using his whole range, to excellent effect. Showing that they're not willing to completely abandon their familiar style, Youth Group are very much in Casino Twilight Dogs form on the beautiful "Friedrichstrasse," with its shimmering guitars and an arresting performance by Martin.

Later tracks like "A Sign" and "Babies in Your Dreams," come off as a bit lackluster in comparison to the rest of the album, the latter not quite saved by the addition of horns and twinkling piano, but they make way for the late album highlight "In My Dreams." With Martin haunted by vivid images, it's the type of introspective tune that the band has seemed to find a comfort zone in historically and it's true in this case as well. Youth Group fittingly draw the album to a close with the characteristically thoughtful "What Is a Life?," which displays Martins uncanny talent for dramatizing the mundane.

Overall, The Night Is Ours is a fascinating effort. It may take time for some of the tracks to permeate the consciousness, but in most cases, patience is rewarded. The band certainly can't be accused of rehashing their earlier material, the new direction perhaps partially attributable to working with Chris Walla, who mixed the album, in addition to contributing vocals and guitar work. The move to a more organic sound is somewhat analogous to the sonic changes engineered by Walla for his own band, Death Cab for Cutie's recent Narrow Stairs, though their tried-and-true style does play heavily into the mix. This new album will likely please and intrigue fans of the band's previous albums as well as potentially earn new fans from those who found their earlier work to be a bit too light-and-fluffy. It's a worthy addition into the Youth Group canon.

Recommended If You LikeThe Shins' Wincing the Night Away
Death Cab for Cutie's Narrow Stairs
Snow Patrol's Final Straw
Coldplay's Parachutes
The Boat People's Chandeliers

Check out Youth Group on Myspace.

DI Pistola 04/03/09 06:04 AM

I liked Final Straw by Snow Patrol a lot, so I could see myself getting into this.

Jeremy Aaron 04/03/09 06:13 AM


Originally Posted by DI Pistola (Post 40023351)
I liked Final Straw by Snow Patrol a lot, so I could see myself getting into this.

Whoops. Haha.

_Andrew 04/03/09 07:42 AM

Can't wait to hear it, i'm a fan.

bigblue2015 04/03/09 08:26 AM

I loved their last two releases, and had no clue they were releasing another album, so thank you Jeremy for alerting me of this. Is April 7th the U.S. release date, or is that U.K./Australia?

Jeremy Aaron 04/03/09 09:19 AM


Originally Posted by bigblue2015 (Post 40027222)
I loved their last two releases, and had no clue they were releasing another album, so thank you Jeremy for alerting me of this. Is April 7th the U.S. release date, or is that U.K./Australia?

That is the U.S. release date. I believe it has been out for a while overseas.

Gregory Robson 04/03/09 10:13 AM

Their first two were incredible. Both Skeleton Jar and Casino Twilight Dogs get tons of spins in my house every year. The latter is just awesome. I really do love CTD. Nice review Jeremy. Such a good band.

Patterns in Traffic 04/03/09 10:16 AM

Great review, I pretty much agree completely. The album is more of a grower than their previous releases for sure. I'm a big fan, so I've had this since it was released in Australia last summer. Definitely worth owning, as you might guess from my avatar (that's the Australian cover art). "Dying at Your Own Party" is a gorgeous song.

Analog Rebellion 04/03/09 12:21 PM

I love this band. Skeleton Jar is a great record. I need to pick this up.

sell the sunris 04/03/09 12:41 PM

Amazing band. I was frightfully unaware of this release, so thanks for the review.

Review seemed to analyze the music very well with a very fair, self aware lens, which I greatly appreciated. One wonders, given time, if that rating will go up after many and future listens as some albums just take time to simmer.

Still, kudos!

Analog Rebellion 04/03/09 01:08 PM

Dangit, I don't want to wait 4 days to buy this. Jeremy, send it to me ;-)

Ryzenfall 04/03/09 01:50 PM

Good review. I remember listening to Skeleton Jar a whole lot. I had no idea about the releases after that. Will check out.

Broden Terry 04/03/09 03:11 PM

I really like this review. I just can't get into this band though? :shrug:

stevoemo 04/07/09 12:38 AM

Best music to come from Australia, no doubt. I am stoked.

dhelmick 11/09/09 10:19 AM

i have yet to listen to this album but i saw these guys play in pittsburgh with vesta and bought casino twilight dogs the next day. awesome! i want to hear this for sure.