TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 08, 2009 |
The opposite of the jarring polar bear on it's cover, Invisible Republic is full of smooth, easy electric pop that warms the ears by shimmering with hints of grandeur. Former Stars members Stephen Ramsay and Catherine McCandless continue to use their previous gig as a jumping point to songwriting with a refracted result; the strings take a backseat to empty space, and the low end is turned way up. Young Galaxy works bottom to top, so much so that once you've reached the airy vocals, you're already in space instead of just looking at it.
Young Galaxy has reinvented itself literally and figuratively, leaving dynasty label Arts & Crafts and losing/gaining members. Republic finds the group exploring new plays on rhythm and space, trekking farther from the neatly packaged pop of Stars. While their previous record garnered comparisons to the flagship of A&C (Broken Social Scene), the newly emancipated Galaxy is free to stand alone as a pop act; an unfortunate task for a band surrounded by Canada's juggernauts of indie. Young Galaxy doesn't reinvent the wheel, but they manage to make it turn pretty fast, for an enjoyable post-synth ride.
Songs like "Dreams" seem conceived as reminders more than progress. The shoegaze is imitative more than innovative, but no one is saying otherwise; Young Galaxy is a retrospective sound with a edge for oddities. "Queen Drum" takes typical progressions and makes them sound slightly off. "Destroyer" takes the grandoise Arcade Fire "Wake Up" drum thing and turns it into a subdued love song (albeit a charged one). "Pathos" comes almost totally out of left field to take a vaguely Young Galaxy sounding melody and overlay horns and acoustic guitar in lieu of open sounding guitars and fat bass. When the simple trio opens up into choral mascerations, pretty and numbing, Galaxy hits their stride. The group enthralls by just missing the mark of perfection.
The only shortcoming is the achievement they often wring out of their songs, the expected and the satisfying structures are often the ones listeners no longer find compelling. That is why I like "Pathos" best, because it takes an angle of expectancy and twists it into something short and cohesive as well as unexpected. When it fades back into "Light Years," lost again in the sound, unable to focus, we feel the same way. Young Galaxy knows how to construct simple air-pop and let the bass line be the most discernible element. But the group is at it's best when it constructs massively uncomfortable layers and let's things get a bit out of control. Hopefully, in the future, Young Galaxy will explode and expand their boundaries. -joe puglisi