Review Summary: Just what the genre needed....
Youth Pictures of Florence Henderson are not anything special really-a bold statement but an apt one. On paper, the band has little in their arsenal that sets them apart from the glut of homogeneous post-rock acts. You see, YPOFH do not reinvent the wheel, they do not push boundaries or break down doors, nor do they progress the genre in anyway shape or form. However, they, and their self titled release, are just what is needed for what some see as an ailing genre.
Even in its sparsely insipid and vapid moments, Youth Pictures of Florence Henderson manage to make honest
music, bringing a sense of unbridled creativity and exuberance into the tried and true formula. Sure they don’t shake things up too much, but Youth Pictures of Florence Henderson
is the embodiment of the genre, and a testament to how far underlying emotions and themes can carry a work.
After all, the band was seemingly created by chance, on the whim of a few young Norwegian men with nothing better to do then spill forth their musical ideas, creating music that was somewhat disorganized yet wholly inspired. Some songs worked, while others did not, and utilizing this uncontainable and urgent sense of creativity, YPOFH created a small, yet loyal following. It’s safe to say that the band are the personification of the genre’s humble beginnings, as well as how far it has come.
And how far it has come indeed. While bands such as Mono utilize entire orchestras, and use the finest production tools available, YPOFH hearken back to a time when acts were stuffed into tiny pubs, and recorded on meager budgets. Yet that is where the album gets its charms, through the imperfections flaws. At times the faults are awfully apparent, and the ideas sometimes fall flat, but as a fully realized package, the album succeeds. Yet it succeeds by being more than a mere sum of its parts, becoming something very special indeed.
Youth Pictures Of Florence Henderson
is beautiful, and oftentimes breathtaking. It is more contained than one would believe, focusing less on the majestic, sprawling climaxes, and more on the subtle moods and intricacies of the entire effort. For instance, “Let’s Rent Bikes From 1942” holds a Sigur Ros like feeling of wonderment and catharsis, tapping into songs like “Hoppipolla,” while others are in the same vein as Explosions in the Sky's The Earth Is Not A Cold Dead Place
, featuring airy and spacey atmospheres . The obvious nods to their influences flatter and compliment, rather than misconstrue their sounds, and bastardize their celebrated works.
Yet what separates YPOFH from their contemporaries is the heavier use of vocals, which thankfully add a lot of character to the entirety. Unfortunately, the vocals are kind of weak, and at times they seemingly fall flat. They lack they intrinsic beauty and poise that the rest of the album has, but as a whole, their presence helps more than it hinders, separating the band from many of their peers. The rest of the band does an admirable job creating a dense, but airy atmosphere, meshing and melding very well with each other. The acoustic guitar feels organic, and the percussion is crisp and precise, while the mournful strings croon and the electric guitars loop and meander about, giving every track its own identity and sound. The whole package comes together so well, with neither musician sticking out as weak (save for the vocalist), making an incredibly tight, consistent, and solid album.
Yet the excellence displayed by the musicians would all be for naught were it not for the excellence in songwriting on Youth Pictures of Florence Henderson
. Quite literally, every track is a standout on the album, with each track becoming an equal piece of a powerful whole. The album opens up with the jovial excursion that is “Let’s Rent Bikes From 1942.” It really sets the mood of the entire album, as it is comprised of every individual aspect of the record. The rest of the tracks follow suit, creating moods and feelings unique to each piece. “I Think E.T. Is Involved In My Family” the most chaotic song, creating a denser and more urgent mood, while retaining the same beauty found throughout. It’s brash movements seemingly blend together perfectly, sounding wholly organic and palpable. “To Sit Down Or To Follow, So I Follow” is situated in the middle of the album, and although it features some of the weaker vocals on the album, it still manages to be one of the more stunning songs on the album. It is multi-faceted, making transitions while still retaining the same brisk feeling throughout. Songs like these make the entirety of Youth Pictures of Florence Henderson
worth a listen, as they are each so fully realized and consistent, that it is impossible not to admire the musicianship behind them.
YPOFH have created something special with their self titled, and fans of the genre will not soon forget it. It is juvenile in some respects, as the band have not fully flexed their creative muscles outside of this album. However, everything that the album is, its exuberance and its beauty, its imperfection and its faults, all come together into one unforgettable package. It’s deceptively basic, yet staggeringly and breathtakingly beautiful, captivating, and wonderful. Youth Pictures of Florence Henderson
is the post-rock event of the year, and an album that is not to be missed.