Anthony Green - Young Legs
Record Label: Moshtradamus Records
Release Date: November 12, 2013
I have to admit, I never saw this coming.
The year was 2008- an essential time for any 14-year-old with a brother introducing him to bands like Say Anything, Brand New and Saves the Day. Discovering a new artist became a daily event, and yet I can still clearly recall the night I first spun Juturna and On Letting Go back-to-back. I couldn’t sleep that night, for one reason or another, and from the moment I heard Colin Frangicetto’s wailing guitars introducing Anthony Green’s unearthly vocals, I knew I wouldn’t be drifting off anytime soon. The entire atmosphere that surrounded each song was unlike anything my young ears had heard before, and each release would prove to become an important part of the musical development I experienced throughout high school.
My love and fascination for Circa Survive pointed me towards Green’s first solo effort, Avalon, an unquestionably different but altogether beautiful and diverse album that eventually grew into one of my favorites. Then came fatherhood, and while not a soul in the community was (or is yet) unhappy to see Instagrammed photos of his smiling wife and children, the question remained as to how this new role in family life would affect his songwriting. That question was answered with Beautiful Things, a respectable follow-up that showed progression in almost every way despite some off-putting, childlike clunkers (“Love You No Matter What”) holding it back.
So, upon hearing the title of Young Legs and seeing its very literal album art, I would be lying if I said my excitement wasn’t equally mixed with anxiety over which direction it would follow. And immediately after hearing opening track “Breaker” for the first time, my worry was washed away in a sea of dark, emotive lyricism and prominent organic instrumentation. “Breaker” effortlessly slides into the title track, both incorporating murky piano-work and Green’s trademark vocals layered with harmony. “Breaker” tells the story of a lost friendship, and the yearning that comes with it until we come to realize we can’t spend our whole lives waiting for someone. Its abrupt conclusion is backed by distorted guitar chords, while “Young Legs” proves that the blues are still a force to be reckoned with as it stands as one of the most powerful songs Green has ever penned.
This gloomy undertone becomes the centerpiece of the record, be it paired with the easily relatable “When You Sang to Me”, (“I never wanted you to know/Who I used to be/Denying it just forces it to show/What you couldn’t see”, sprawling into an instantly accessible chorus backed by Green’s distorted harmonies) or the upbeat acoustic hook of “Conversation Piece”, which blossoms into a beautifully simple album highlight. As anyone interested in the record will know by now, Circa fans should be in for a treat with the unabashedly hopeful “100 Steps”, albeit in a different and fuller form. The song’s somewhat jarring synths bring back pleasant memories of Avalon and other assorted demos, which helps to transition the listener into Green’s new stylistic approach.
While a few missteps do become apparent throughout, each remains an independent and well-planned idea that just happens to fail this time around. The bouncy, psychedelic “Anytime” completely disrupts the flow of Young Legs, which altogether proves to be Green’s most cohesive and consistent effort yet. The song isn’t so much terrible as it carries on without direction, serving no real purpose in the context of the record. The chorus of “Shine” consists of oddly unsettling gang vocals, which feel out of place as they throw an otherwise atypical AG song off-course. Despite all of this, success is found in the album’s most unexpected corners, with interludes like “Too Little, Too Late” and “Stolen” playing more of a sonic role than a substantial one. They prove to be fitting pieces in a puzzle, providing a fresh breath anytime the songs begin to sound a bit stale.
“Dynamic” is the key word throughout the album, a result of both musical progression and Will Yip’s always stellar production. The songs here feel bigger, and in turn the entirety of Young Legs feels more upfront; it doesn’t hurt that this collection takes a more organic approach in contrast to the electronic elements that played a key role in Beautiful Things. This is the first solo effort that doesn’t feel like “Anthony Green backed by Good Old War”, but a whirlwind of raw and heartfelt songs that refuse to let up as anything but. Preceded by a notably successful and unique career filled with genre-defining and denying releases, Young Legs is the payoff for years of personal growth and maturity through songwriting. As Beautiful Things reached its conclusion, Green promised that “Beautiful things were coming”; if he was referencing the future arrival of Young Legs, he delivered everything we could have hoped for and more. And if we are to take one more cue from Green’s breathtaking closing tracks, perhaps we just have to believe that whatever Green and Co. release next will be an even more masterful step in direction of records that can define the rainy summer nights of any 14-year-old on the verge of discovering something great.