Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Album Review: Young Galaxy - Ultramarine

Young Galaxy’s fourth album, Ultramarine, represents the Vancouver band’s complete immersion in synth-pop and electronic disco.

This journey was started on the previous album, Shapeshifting, with the help of Swedish electronic producer Dan Lissvik via Skype. This time around, Young Galaxy flew to Sweden to record with Lissvik in person. The result is a fully-realized transformation from indie to electronic music.

The opening track, “Pretty Boy,” is evidence enough. The beat scampers about playfully while decorative synths and occasional strings fade between speakers. Lead singer Catherine McCandless’ vocal shimmer and elevate the song into something majestic.

The equally majestic “New Summer” features Ultramarine’s best melody and is one of the finest examples of the John Hughes aesthetic since M83’s Saturdays=Youth. The lyrics lament youth’s final summer, but encourage a carpe diem attitude. “It never would have been as good if built to last. We never would have stood a chance if it didn't move fast,” McCandless sings. “New Summer” is an ideal song to play “with the windows down and the stereo loud” on summer nights.

Young Galaxy avoids overdosing listeners on soaring ballads by mixing in plenty of other 80s conventions. “Fall for You” incorporates funky African drum rhythms. “Privileged Poor” sounds like a video game in parts.

It’s clear that Young Galaxy was fully committed to their new sound. Ultramarine is a complete, well-executed and enjoyable take on the nostalgic synth-pop sound.

Ultramarine is out on Paper Bag Records starting today.

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