If you’ve longed a long-time for folk-flavoured, melodic post-pop then it’s likely that you will recognize the signals that The Youth and the Young are sending out on Gestures.
On the latest album from this ear-catching Scots seven-piece, there is certainly a deliberate stirring together of styles, but it’s no mash-up and there are no mixed messages. This is a smart collection of eight sharply drawn designs that comfortably accommodate both folky filigree and baroque pop.
For instance, the free-floating blisspop of Escher Drawn and Whispers recall buoyant carefree days spent at the dream academy for young romantics, and they sit happily alongside the blithely anthemic Little Sky and the extended narrative of Before the Wind.
The record opens with a sonnet in Every Atom of Me and its sentiments are mirrored in Every Atom of You. It’s a clever reprise that underscores the recurring call and response voices of Ryan McGlone and Alice Anderson.
However, I especially like Blueprints for its adroit downshifting of the gears and the clarity of Anderson’s evocative and wistful singing. If it sounds a bit like a break in the battle, then that’s perhaps because it takes a moment to offers a desperately honest insight into a heartbreak hotel of the mind. The melody is exceptionally mature as is the lyrical metaphor of a house that is no longer a home.
If there is a unifying force then it is, perhaps paradoxically, an overriding sense of being outdoors where there is space to think, and the sea and sky is big enough to absorb your loudest shouts of joy and frustration.
The Waterboys were pretty good at that sort of thing and Gestures offers a similar sort of congregational invitation. However, it’s more of a celebratory catharsis than singalong bombast, and is to be commended for its energy, intensity and sheer ambition.
Michael S. Clark