Review Summary: “I want you to get up right now and go to the window, open it, and stick your head out, and yell, ‘I'm as mad as hell, and I'm not going to take this anymore!’”
The summary of this review is the white-hot conclusion of a speech from actor Peter Finch’s character in the 1976 movie Network
. The more Howard Beale speaks, the angrier he realizes he is- what began as an innocent enough economic treatise transforms into rage, outright and infinite. It’s more than that, though- Beale’s tired of ambivalence. In the role of the mentally unstable Beale, Peter Finch leaves an impression that simultaneously disgraces and inspires the viewer. And it sure is easy to forget Maybeshewill sampled this very speech in their first full-length album, for "Not For Want Of Trying" feels like a song from a different era (even if only six years old.) From the get-go this Leicestershire-based band operated via volatility, impressing sizable guitar riffs onto what was a initially a tranquil take on post-rock. And this juxtaposition didn't just distinguish the band from its peers; it turned them into a remarkably palatable post-rock group, one who made a simple concept like urgency sound so different to so many. And "Not For Want Of Trying" spearheaded this concept by containing this speech right in its center, a collection of words that couldn't sum up Maybeshewill any better.
Howard Beale’s speech used in “Not For Want Of Trying” spearheaded the rawness Maybeshewill was once known for. It gave voice to the turmoil, those uneasy feelings shrouded beneath the music; it took ideas that were difficult to truly put into words, and communicated them scrupulously. But as I listen to Fair Youth
, it strikes me that the most vital components of Maybeshewill’s earlier sound have been swept away more and more with each passing year, like grains of sand that blanket a stormy coastline. It’s the natural process of things- the world changes immeasurably from one moment to the next, not to even mention the littler things that come along with it. But this is precisely why Fair Youth
leaves me a bit flummoxed- for a band who seemed to have found veritable places from which it can cull inspiration, they seem to be running their own well dry.
The very things that inspired Maybeshewill to make music in the first place- social unrest and robust melodies- are both absent on Fair Youth
, and there isn’t a whole lot left to take their place. Part of the problem may be that the album functions as the logical successor to 2011’s I Was Here For A Moment
- an album compressed the group’s sound into something so angular and narrow that moving forward, evolution existed as more an abstract concept than anything else. And if that record taught us any lesson it was that Maybeshewill know how to paint a pretty scene with their songs: they wrote melodically palatable post-rock songs in varying time signatures, and then instilled indelible melodies on piano and guitar, perhaps even both. But the fundamental difference between I Was Here...
and its predecessor is that it had bite, it had the monumental riffs and it had the anger. Fair Youth
is emotionally listless and sterile, existing instead as a post-rock album that, above all else, maintains. The same things you felt right before you began spinning the record, well, those are the same things you’ll feel during. And if what Fair Youth
wants you to feel and what you’re already feeling are one and the same, then why even bother? I want impact; I want to be affected. I want something to get mad about.