For any die hard Younger Brother fan, this album may come as a bit of a shock. After releasing their debut A Flock of Bleeps in 2003, and follow-up The Last Days of Gravity in 2007 to critical raves, YB set everyone’s expectations extremely high. Listening to the progression of the albums left me wondering if Younger Brother‘s evolution had just begun towards a modern rock hybrid, or if they were going to return to the eclectic, tripped-out beats of their first album. On their newest Vaccine, out on Twisted Records April 25th, it’s clear they wanted to continue adding new elements to their sound while trying to incorporate the cosmically beautiful exploration and psychedelic madness that we know and love. In 2007 Younger Brother became a five-piece band with the additions of Tommy Hamilton on guitar, Joe Russo on drums, Ruu Campbell on vocals, and Marc Brownstein on bass along with original masterminds Simon Posford and Benji Vaughn.
Listening to the the new album Vaccine for the first time, I thought to myself- is this an Indie album? It is clear that the direction they wanted to go in was more of a futuristic pop-rock style, with song patterns that may appeal to new fans, as well as a backdrop of twisted sounds that kept old fans interested. Don’t go into it expecting more fresh late-night cuts to blow your mind, but take it as a new project essentially, and give it a chance on a Sunday afternoon. It won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, but I suspect they are tired of making mind-fuck music for spunions and are trying to develop as artists, which we have to respect, regardless of what we were expecting or what we think of the results. In my opinion, they fucking nailed this new genre and the album is excellently produced.
It is hard to diminish the impact Ruu Campbell has had. His voice truly adds another rhythmic instrument to compliment the sounds Posford and Vaughn are infamous for, and also makes the band’s sound distinctly British. I think Ruu really shines through (sorry for the pun) on the songs “Shine” and “Pound a Rhythm” as they focus mainly on the vocals, which is new to Younger Brother, so much so that the drastic change in style makes one wonder if this should be called something else altogether. “Pound a Rhythm” allows the new lyrical direction to take over for parts of the song, then lets the spacey Posford beats take over, with only Ruu‘s voice bringing your mind back from the psychedelic journey.
The whole album is not like those songs, however. One of the tracks I have developed a love hate relationship with is “Safety in Numbers.” The dark, ominous feel is tremendous, and this is one of the songs on the album begging for improvisational jams. At times, the vocals dominate when we are aching for an electronic drop or groove, not always allowing the complete band to shine through. The tracks “Night Lead Me Astray” and “Spinning into Place” follow a similar structure, and although both songs have some very unique points, the beats get a bit repetitive, and a little too slow in general. My favorite, which really shows off the talents of each member in the band, is “Train”. In an almost Pink Floyd-esque guitar jam, this song really highlights everything Younger Brother has to offer, especially as a full live band.
Overall, I feel that this album is a major step in the evolution of the complete sound Younger Brother is offering. While many beat-fiends will miss the edgy, psychedelic classics, this exploratory album brings fans into a new dimension, and I am excited to see where they go from here.
Listen to “Train” here:
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Grab the album here: Twistedmusic.com
3. ‘Pound A Rhythm’
4. ‘Safety In Numbers’
5. ‘Night Lead Me Astray’
7. ‘Spinning Into Place’
8. ‘System 700’
And here’s the new video for “Tetris”