Review Summary: Sorry, Depreciation Guild, but I prefer my music somewhat interesting, no matter how pleasant and melodious you insist on making Spirit Youth.
Drawing comparisons between food and music is a guilty pleasure of mine. It becomes all too easy for me to indulge in this when The Depreciation Guild is begging
to be compared to a bagel. The Depreciation Guild’s laid-back, flowery mixture, one part shoegaze and one part pop, is enjoyable upon first visit. Yet, it’s difficult to find any outstanding facets of the album whatsoever, making it feel unsubstantial and bland, like there’s a giant hole in the middle. The gentle guitars and aqueous keyboards reminiscent of My Bloody Valentine are present, but The Depreciation Guild are more comfortable putting their own spin on the fuzzy sound that’s well past its prime. The question becomes, then: is the “newgaze” movement, as it’s begun to be referred to, a desirable trend, or does it make Slowdive, Ride and My Bloody Valentine turn in their graves? We’ll get to that later; but either way, Spirit Youth is indicative of a sound that’s slowly but surely gaining steam. The Radio Dept., M83, Asobi Seksu are some obvious examples, but the amount of lesser-known bands with the newgaze tag is surprisingly large. It’s easy to see why, too. Spirit Youth
is a light-hearted album, so inoffensive that it’s sure not to turn any ears away, no matter how picky. As previously mentioned though, Spirit Youth
is easy to equate with breakfast- and I’m not talking about French toast, here. Oh no, think along the lines of a bagel or perhaps a Danish. While enjoyable to an extent, Spirit Youth can’t help but come off a tad unsubstantial and unimpressive.
Spirit Youth begins on a melodious, enjoyable note with “My Chariot.” In fact, it remains relatively likable throughout, and ends on a fairly good few songs. Rather than some outstanding fault on Spirit Youth
, it’s more a case of lacking factors. Inoffensive, songs like “November” and “A Key Turns” display The Depreciation Guild’s ability to add a little reverb to hook-filled arrangements. The product is tasty, but it’s difficult to root out any exceptional qualities. In effect, Spirit Youth
sounds stagnant, even with a plethora of Nintendo-synth hooks. Like a bagel, Spirit Youth can’t escape the blandness- or a more striking similarity is that both seem to be suffering from a hole cut out of the middle.
The poppy hooks mixed with shoegaze are easy for anyone to stomach, but the sad fact of the matter is that The Depreciation Guild are unable to back it up with substance or provide the music with some backbone. Loveless relied on sex appeal and atmosphere. Or more recently, bands like M83 master the ability to emphasize emotion through tonality and aura, but instead The Depreciation Guild leave us hanging. The soft-spoken vocals have little emotion or weight in the music and it’s near-impossible to point out any defining moments on the album. Despite this, it’s also hard to entirely discredit the band. They’ve found their niche within the newgaze movement, it is simply a matter of having the confidence to delve a little further or experiment a little more. Instead of submerging and enveloping us into the music like early 90’s shoegaze predecessors, The Depreciation Guild are content with simply providing little, timid tastes on Spirit Youth
. Enjoyable as it may be, there’s vast room for improvement. I don’t want bland, nondescript, hole-filled bagels for breakfast. I want substance, I desire something a bit more exciting with flair and depth... like French toast, for example.