The Underground Youth have never done superficial and that hasn’t changed with latest release ‘Nostalgia’s Glass’, as always on the Fuzz Club label. Their previous album ‘The Falling’ went in a more gothic folk direction (it certainly divided opinion; personally, I thought it was a masterpiece) and this one hasn’t totally moved away from that feel but also incorporates a lot more of the sounds and feelings we’d heard on preceding albums. As you’d imagine if you’re familiar with the band it’s still deeply felt, slightly introspective and brooding.
“‘Nostalgia’s Glass’ looks back at the music of The Underground Youth, forming new songs in a style reminiscent of the band’s past, whilst lyrically condemning the nostalgia that the album is itself guilty of”, writes guitarist/vocalist Craig Dyer.
It starts in dramatic and epic fashion with ‘Emilie’; not quite a Spector wall of sound but it’s big with a bit of swagger to it. Craig Dyer’s baritone voice seems to be getting deeper and richer with age and the sound more fuller and more cinematic, nothing lo-fi about it these days.
‘I Thought I Understood’ sounds taut with longing and loss; a driving bass and exquisite guitar giving the perfect example of the artful post punk noir sound that this band has made their own, slightly wistful but undefeated and positive.
The desperate and yearning feeling persists for ‘Finite As It Is’ – the distorted fuzz and crashing drums replicating the feel of the opening track. This album may be reflecting on previous styles and themes but there also seems to be something new metamorphosing out of the ghosts and shadows; a dense grandeur that has been hinted at before over the last handful of years.
The pace and style changes somewhat with ‘Another Country’ which feels like a brief link back to ‘The Falling’ with a more minimal, slightly Velvet Underground feel. ‘Frame Of Obsession’ takes us to the secret depths of the psyche, building to a stormy crescendo – the tone is sinister and murderously but beautiful and rich sounding. The track features distinctive backing vocals from Lucy Kruger whose previous work as half of Medicine Boy had that same intimate and personal feel that typifies The Underground Youth and that makes you feel almost voyeuristic at times, as if you’re seeing too much of the soul exposed.
A piano led rain soaked ‘Interlude’ leads us to title track itself; sombre and reflective, spelling out the theme of the album and then ‘The Allure Of The Light’ – shadowy arthouse noir; a haunted monochrome flashback full of late night obsession.
‘Omsk Lullaby’ features an ominous bass line and echoing drums contrasting with the yearning melody and really is quite beautiful. As much as I try to avoid lazy comparisons this took me right back to The Cure in the ‘Seventeen Seconds’ and ‘Faith’ period and that melancholy vision continues with album closer ‘Epilogue’.
As always with Underground Youth records this album feels intimate and personal, almost confessional, stripped raw and open and honest; you feel you can see right into the heart of these songs or that somehow, they can see into yours. The band find the romance in the everyday, the epic in human relationships and produce a shadowy knowing arthouse music with narrative and texture. If that all sounds a bit too serious and gloomy never fear; there’s a dark rock ‘n’ roll glamour here and the tunes are great! If you’ve ever found inspiration or solace in a Nick Cave track you’ll understand. On stage the band put in a dramatic performance – a propulsive and entertaining force which unfortunately I haven’t managed to catch live since 2019; hopefully some UK dates will be announced soon….this material will be special in a live setting.
The Underground Youth on YouTube