Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Spirit Youth - The Depreciation Guild

Spirit Youth

The Depreciation Guild
Kanine Records.

SCQ Rating: 76%

When the C86 revival kicked into high gear last year with jangly guitar and fey vocals taking priority, I expected The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart’s debut to be a launching point. Trend-wise, the NYC based outfit became poster-children but for a resurgence that never blossomed. Where was their entourage or, better yet, their competition? Bands have since referenced fringe aspects of the C86 sound – such as Wild Nothings on this summer’s Gemini – but its promise seemed to wither out of the gates as though the twee-rockers had modernized their homage to perfection.

A primary focus on Spirit Youth appears to be proving that notion false, and it’s ironic that the band responsible for vindicating that self-titled record’s direction, The Depreciation Guild, shares two members with The Pains of Being Pure At Heart. Aesthetic aside, these two bands cater to completely different fan-bases; unlike their twee-bearing peers who at least partially crutch themselves on fashion, The Depreciation Guild vanish behind walls of gauzy indie-rock and grand (yet accessible) experimentation. ‘My Chariot’ meets these principles head-on, lending shoegaze guitar washes to quivering electronic programming. And although the subsequent nine tracks assemble on similar merits, the quartet’s songwriting keeps their sonic escapades interesting. A soaring guitar warble feeds the spritely ‘Crucify You’ with a tempo that matches the speed, if not the pounding, of ‘Through the Snow’, a guitar-blast footnoted by fluttering keys. Despite their propulsive energy, Spirit Youth doesn’t shy away from its electronic veneer, at times replacing the ferocity of six-strings with masterful soundscapes (take ‘Dream About Me’, which sounds as if Ulrich Schnauss had been working the boards). This is what I’d hoped C86 might sound like in the 21st century, in no small part because The Depreciation Guild have armed it with studio-wizardry that faintly hints toward the future.

With a deceivingly massive scope and too gauzy to initially discern track-by-track, Spirit Youth could’ve easily burgeoned into a self-indulgent vanity project. The group’s ability to keep things taunt and aggressive makes this sophomore record a decadent treat, as even the odd overlong track (‘White Moth’) features more ambition than most retro-gazing bands (hint, hint). Okay, there’s nothing wrong with The Pains of Being Pure At Heart’s snuggly and concise indie-pop but I knew their muse deserved better. Attentive to the tiny musical details that can compound into muscular jolts, Spirit Youth has decidedly more substance.

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