Swedish trio Simian Ghost released their second album, Youth, on the 5th March 2012, following their critically acclaimed 2010 debut, Infinite Traffic Everywhere. Though Youth has its low points there’s a good amount of positives too, and if you focus on those, it’s an album with enough class to get by.
Youth opens with Curtain Call, which is upbeat pop with slightly hushed reverb touched vocals that swirl around each other with clean guitar melodies and hand claps flipping in the background.
The album steps up a notch with the looping gem that is the title track. Youth brings out the hand claps once again with a looped guitar track backing and dulled electro-bass notes. It’s the song of the album and makes up in leaps and bounds for some of what’s to come. The change-up at the end justifies the 5:57 of the track giving it a long potential listening life.
Things continue well with The Capitol starting out with ringing chimes, more handclaps and a faster pace to more dominant drums. The vocals are at their best here with slim shades of Stephen Malkmus, James Mercer, Jim James and Paul Murphy. Again the changes later on in the song give it a more rounded, interesting sound that’s much less formulaic than could have otherwise been the case.
Simian Ghost, Wolf Girl
However, things start to get a little sedate with Wolf Girl, but it’s not too pronounced and the track works really well on the back of Youth and The Capitol. The short lived chorus is easy to go along with as it builds out the end of the song on the foundation of slow fizzing synths and rapid fire melodies.
Sparrow takes the album in acoustic guitar tainted directions. The vocals are droning, but not in a good way and the song doesn’t really go anywhere of any particular note. Things go from sappy to cheesy on Fenix with its pseudo-funk and high-pitch vocals.
There’s a reprieve with Automation that returns to some of the musical quality of earlier songs, although there are vague traces of easy listening pop around the edges of the song. Sirens is slightly marred by affected vocals, but the music is listenable with shimmering synth and key melodies. The reverb laced slide guitar works well at the end of Sirens.
Crystalline Lovers Mind is far too easy listening to sit well on the album and end track, No Dreams, is once again touched with too high vocals at times. It’s also a bit plodding, completing the split of the album between clever and interesting tracks and duller songs.
Simian Ghost’s Youth is a game of two halves nearly with all the hits in the first few tracks. It’s not a terrible thing to skip a few tracks though, especially if you can programme in a 1, 2, 3, 4, 7 play list (maybe 8 too, depending on whether you’re feeling sensitive to vocal highflying).
Simian Ghost, Youth review: 3.5/5