Young Galaxy: Ultramarine
Ultramarine is Young Galaxy’s fourth album overall and their second album with Paper Bag Records, the label that marks a tangible shift in the band’s tone. Released on April 23 and produced by the prolific Dan Lissvik, Ultramarine is a minor step down from the indie pop group’s 2011 release, Shapeshifting. However, it contains enough gems to be a worthy addition to the band’s genre-expanding catalog.
Ultramarine relies more heavily on electronics than any prior release, which feels like a natural evolution, melding perfectly with the exotic beats YG spatters on each track and synching seamlessly with Catherine McCandless’ calm, ethereal voice. Where Young Galaxy excels is in their lyrical prowess, which is poetic at its most basic and transcendent at its most complex. The album’s first track, “Pretty Boy,” echoes a multitude of emotions, with the conflicting feelings of desperation and affection perfectly reflected in McCandless’ intonation; “And I know you feel isolated/And I feel what you won’t say/I don’t care if the disbelievers don’t understand/You’re my pretty boy, always.” While Ultramarine is not short on kinetic tracks with lush synths and sparkling beats, the album’s defining songs are those where the quintet slows things down and strives for intimacy (i.e. “Sleepwalk with Me” and the album’s best track, “New Summer”).
Absent from the latest record is any supporting vocals, notably that of bassist Stephen Kamp, whose more prominent role in earlier releases created a balance to McCandless’ celestial ruminations. Also, a minor but cognizant flaw is a lack of overall cohesiveness to the album. It seems as though Lissvik made an asserted effort to give each song its own definitive identity, but to the album’s detriment in that the tracks don’t have a connective tissue. Yet, even without the fluidity that marked their earlier releases, you should have no hesitation diving into the engaging and entrancing Ultramarine.