Childhood — Universal High (22 July 2017) ★→•» Kalifornským světlem a Londýnem oděna kapela se může pochlubit svěžími beaty a nostalgickým falsettem ‘non~boyband druhu’ frontmana Ben Romans~Hopcrafta, zatímco třeba v písni Cameo klouže po euforické, proggy straně psychedelie. Vše bez námahy, elegantně. Přece jen stále je zde ještě prostor pro rozvíjení myšlenky méně se přizpůsobovat konkrétním trendům a místo toho hravě běžet old~school prostorem s retro duchem. Svobodným a příjemně experimentálním stylem jsou však přesto pro někoho příliš kontroverzní kapelou. Co je špatné na tom, že Ben Romans~Hopcraft přijal soulovou hudbu jako svou hlavní inspiraci? Pravda, je obtížné najít něco nového, co by Childhood mohli ještě z R&B absorbovat. Nelze však upřít jejich schopnost dát dohromady chytlavou píseň. Další atribut: synchronizace mezi synths a sborem. Od svého prvního alba Lacuna je kaleidoskopické všechno, co dělají. Mají hlubokou lásku k takovým hlubokým, melodickým soulovým umělcům, jako Curtis Mayfield, věrně vzdávají poctu tomuto soundu a současně se tím baví.
Location: Nottingham ~ London, UK
Album release: 22 July 2017
Recorded: Maze Studios in Atlanta.
Record Label: Marathon Artists Limited
01. A.M.D. 4:15
02. Californian Light 4:14
03. Cameo 4:14
04. Too Old for My Tears 2:39
05. Melody Says 3:21
06. Universal High 3:30
07. Understanding 2:50
08. Don’t Have Me Back 3:50
09. Nothing Ever Seems Right 3:40
10 Monitor 5:17
℗ 2017 Marathon Artists Limited
Produced: Ben Allen III (Gnarls Barley, Dirty Projectors and Animal Collective)
• London~based indie rock quartet Childhood was created by guitarist and vocalist Ben Romans~Hopcraft and second guitarist Leo Dobsen in 2010 while attending university in Nottingham. They soon added fellow students Daniel Salamons on bass and Chris O’Driscoll on drums to complete their original lineup. Their early sound drew comparisons to the likes of Stone Roses and Primal Scream as well as many shoegaze bands, fitting alongside rising acts such as Savages and tourmates Palma Violets. Positive attention from the British press was initially based on three studio tracks, including their first single, “Blue Velvet,” its B~side “Bond Girls,” and a digital stream of “Haltija.” Drummer Jonny Williams replaced O’Driscoll following the release of their second single, “Solemn Skies,” and Childhood went on to make it into the “bands to watch in 2014” features by both the BBC and the Guardian newspaper. Another single, “Falls Away,” arrived before the mid~2014 release of the band’s first full~length, Lacuna, which was produced by Dan Carey. After touring in support of the album, the band headed to Atlanta to record with Ben H. Allen III (Cee Lo Green, Animal Collective). In the meantime, their lineup modified to include Romans~Hopcraft, Dobsen, Williams, bassist Thomas Tomaski, and keyboardist Max Fantin, and Romans~Hopcraft became involved with Insecure Men, a project led by Fat White Family vocalist Saul Adamczewski that also included Sean Lennon, among others. When Childhood’s second album, Universal High, eventually arrived in 2017 via Marathon Records, it toned down the shoegaze for early influences like classic psychedelic pop and, most strikingly, ‘70s soul. ~ James Pearce & Marcy Donelson
Childhood’s Universal High is an infectious rush of soul, funk and pop music.
By Ed Nash / 17 JULY 2017, 09:51 BST / Score: 8
•−• The weight of being dubbed the saviours of guitar music is more often than not an unwanted albatross for a young band.
•−• When Childhood emerged with the evergreen “Blue Velvet” in 2012 they found themselves in exactly that position, but instead of second guessing themselves or playing to the gallery, they wisely followed their own path.
•−• Their debut Lacuna, released in the summer of 2014, displayed a very different and singular vision to the one that been bestowed upon them. Lacuna was certainly a record that revelled in the possibilities of guitars, but underpinning it was a love of soul music.
•−• On their second record, Universal High, Childhood’s love of soul, funk and pop music is more pronounced, with the chorus’s possessing an innate catchiness, especially so on first single “Californian Light”, a contender for the song of the summer. Indeed, Lacuna’s more reflective moments, such as “As I Am” and “Falls Away” could comfortably nestle on Universal High’s soul infused atmosphere where, rather than sounding like a volte~face, it’s instead a subtle revolution.
•−• If Lacuna was the sound of a four~piece band, Universal High sees Childhood broadening the breadth of instruments, with saxophones, gospel singers, pianos and keys added to the mix. Rather than sounding overbaked, the songs retain a sparseness where needed, with a ballad like “Understanding” built on a simple collection of parts rather than smothered in layers.
•−• The opening “A.M.D” signifies the adaptation and swagger in Childhood’s step, with the guitars — retuned to clean, clipped funk settings, rather than using effects pedals — accompanied by a swirl of 70s funk keyboards. Ben Romans~Hopcraft’s voice, always a dulcet instrument, is chilled down to intone the funk, moving into falsetto at points, buoyed along with gospel singing, before signing off with “It feels like nothing has changed.”
•−• Some things have changed for Childhood, and not just in terms of sound. Bassist Dan Salamons left the fold shortly after Lacuna was released, but Thomas Tomaski fits in seamlessly, providing a juddering, deep bass on “Cameo”. His playing with Jonny Williams’ pristine drumming takes the funk of the songs onto the dancefloor throughout the record, especially on the soul revue of “Don’t Have Me Back”, with its bouncing piano and saxophone flourishes.
•−• The closing “Monitor” is a beautiful way to end the record. The slowest song here, with its spacey synths and deep bass it creates a psychedelic funk surround~sound, as the lyric revisits the streets of Roman~Hopcraft’s youth. Nostalgia has always been a theme of Childhood’s music, but with “Monitor” they mix it with a glorious sense of futurism, moving upwards and onwards both metaphorically and literally.
•−• Universal High continues Childhood’s musical path, the guitar pedals are dialled down, the groove is ramped up, but the care in the songwriting remains wonderfully intact. It’s a natural~sounding progression that confounds the expected developments ‘a guitar band’ should make and instead adds a glorious musical technicolour to a set of songs to soundtrack the summer and beyond. •−• https://www.thelineofbestfit.com/
By Thomas Smith. Jul 20, 2017 / Score: ★★★★
★↔★ South~London group ditch drab indie for sweet soul music on their second album
★↔★ Reinventions are the flavour of 2017. Calvin Harris has ditched EDM for disco, Noel Fielding swapped goth attire for nice jumpers and cakes on GBBO, and Jeremy Corbyn proved to be one of the most galvanising politicians in a generation. Now Childhood continue the trend. Their debut, 2014’s ‘Lacuna’, was a shoegaze~infused slice of indie~pop, hinting at something more exploratory. But a full~blown ‘70s Motown makeover wasn’t anticipated.
★↔★ The record wears its influences proudly. ‘Californian Light’ is a throwback of falsetto vocals and groovy guitars, ‘Cameo’ slithers with liquid~smooth melodies, while ’Too Old For My Tears’, a funky dancefloor filler, showcases a group talented beyond their years. ‘Universal High’ is the reinvention we never knew we needed.
Will Hodgkinson. July 21 2017, 12:01am, The Times / Score: ★★★★