Review Summary: Even with a few solid moments here and there, Youth Group delivers a flop of a final product.
Back in October I went to see The Get Up Kids in Tempe for their reunion tour. I was so excited to see them since I never had the chance to see them back in their early days, and just like with any show, I just wanted all the opening bands to hurry the hell up. The first band that played was some awful dance-punk band whose name I don’t remember. It was just a bunch of scene kids with faux-hawks and scene-jeans trying to sound like The Matches and Bloc Party. After they finished I continued waiting anxiously for The Get Up Kids to come out, but there was still another band on the bill. The four guys that came on stage looked like, for a lack of better words, a bunch of white-trash hipsters. I immediately thought to myself, “I will assume they suck too.” But to my surprise when they started playing I was in awe.
Their songs were so moving and catchy that I felt like an idiot for thinking otherwise. In their Australian accents they said their name was Youth Group, and after the show I bought their album The Night Is Ours. I figured that their live sound would translate perfectly from stage to record, and I would become a Youth Group fan from that point on. I came to the conclusion that I was wrong.
Upon first listen, I found The Night Is Ours boring enough to put me right to sleep. On second listen I saw slight glimmers of hope for the album. Every listen after that was me trying to force myself to like it. How could I like this band so much live but dislike their album so much?
The problem with The Night Is Ours is that it does nothing new, interesting, or creative. Every song on the album sounds the same. Youth Group took the best ideas formed by The Smiths and Death Cab For Cutie and the trite, pop style of Snow Patrol and created absolutely nothing worthwhile. The songs range from slow and boring to, well, fast and boring. Youth Group do very little to build up each song so that it becomes stronger as they go on. With songs that on average are 3:30 to 4 minutes long, that arrangement gets old really fast.
The first two songs, “Good Time” and “One For Another”, start out slow and dull. But one would assume that they would build up to something interesting, right? No such luck. However, “One For Another” does start out with an exciting, funk-influenced guitar riff that could have been taken straight from the Shaft soundtrack. The problem with this song is that where the chorus should explode and everything come together, nothing happens. It just keeps going and every part of the song sounds that same.
“Two Sides” follows with that glimmer of hope that I mentioned earlier. The bass and drums work well together and help carry the song, while an 80’s synth melody plays throughout the rest of the song. But everything begins to unravel and the flaws reveal themselves. Although the drums get heavier, nothing changes. The dynamics remain the same and then the song ends abruptly, as if they had no idea how to end it.
It’s the same story with “All This Shall Pass”, which comes in with an obvious Smiths influenced intro (jangly acoustic guitar). Vocalist Toby Martin even seems to be doing his best Morrissey impression for the verses. Along with the Smiths-styled verses, the bridge seems to copy the same melody as the bridge from Takka Takka’s “We Feel Safer At Night”. Even with this, the song carries itself pretty smoothly, but once again, it leads nowhere.
Quite frankly, I could go on and say the same thing for each track on this record, but what would be the point? The Night Is Ours has some good moments here and there, but overall, this album is pretty worthless. It’s sad when a band can be amazing live but have such a bad record.
In the end, I learned a valuable lesson: bands will always be better live (for the most part), and you should always buy the album only after you’ve previewed it. I will never make that mistake again. Maybe.