Young Man: Beyond Was All Around Me
Every now and then a record comes along that blends genres. It has a throbbing bass rhythm, steady pulsing drums, an ethereal set of vocals, lyrics that delve into a melancholic hole and come out with beautiful and relatable sentiments. Good music surrounds and astounds.
Beyond Was All Around Me is a fascinating mixture of continental spanning scenes, from the chill wave that inspires the lyrics, the surf rock that rose colors the guitar work, and the funk that pervades the bass, without considering the keys, orchestration and subdued, but evocative vocals. The album opens with a tableau, “It’s Alright,” which describes the inevitable decline of all human relationships, positing that inevitability and the ability to be alright are one and the same. It provides the perfect introduction for “Josie,” a haunting, but catchy tune about the collapse of intimacy. The guitar is simple, but stunning, the bass and drums propel the song toward a place of reconciliation. There is a determination to understand the imperfection of life, but a resignation that all the answers don’t have to come out right away.
The album oscillates between complicated and length songs (“In Time,” “In a Sense”) and shorter pop sensical tunes (“Josie,” “Scrape on the Knee”). Listening to the lead single, “In a Sense,” provides some definition and preview for the rest of the album. It begins with melodic guitar picking, that lifts the mood instantaneously, though it does carry a more somber tone. The song builds to feminine vocals, more intimacy and emotional availability for the listener. “In a Sense” feels like the band Washed Out, but goes beyond anything that chill wave is attempting to do. Bands like Small Black and Washed Out work on atmosphere and eschew the traditional pop structure, while Young Man subverts that structure to create a dynamic and breathing beast.
“Being Alone” even carries with it a folk aspect, furthering blending the genres, making Beyond Was All Around Me an album to be anticipated, and album that will stick in the listener’s music player and dig its way deeper and deeper until it sits perched atop their heart.