|Young Galaxy — Ultramarine (2013)|
Young Galaxy – Ultramarine
Location: Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Album release: April 23, 2013
Record Label: Paper Bag Records
01. Pretty Boy 3:56
02. Fall For You 4:24
03. New Summer 4:13
04. Fever 2:58
05. Hard To Tell 4:38
06. What We Want 3:57
07. Out The Gate Backwards 4:10
08. In Fire 4:29
09. Privileged Poor 3:14
10. Sleepwalk With Me 3:55
• Stephen Ramsay
• Catherine McCandless
• Stephen Kamp
• Matthew Shapiro
• Andrea Silver
Press contact: USA - Forcefield PR (firstname.lastname@example.org), Canada - StageFright Publicity (email@example.com), Europe - Sam Willis (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Agent: Rob Zifarelli (CAN)/ Shannin Porter (USA)/ Kalle Lundgren (EUROPE&UK)
By Alex Hudson
¶ Young Galaxy and Studio's Dan Lissvik teamed up for 2011's Shapeshifting, and that collaboration went so well that the Canadian band once again recruited the Swedish producer to helm their new album. Before Ultramarine drops on April 23 via Paper Bag Records, you can stream the whole thing on Exclaim.ca.
¶ The album isn't a huge departure from Shapeshifting, since it carries a similarly icy, rhythmic and synth-heavy sound. Tracks like "Privileged Poor" and "Pretty Boy" have a dramatic electro-pop mood, while the standout "New Summer" is a gorgeously wistful mid-tempo ballad and the album-closing "Sleepwalk with Me" is steeped in billowing coziness.
¶ These songs were recorded with Lissvik in Gothenburg, Sweden. This marked a change from the band's past collaboration with the producer, which took place over Skype.
¶ Stream the whole thing below, and be sure to read Exclaim!'s interview with Young Galaxy's Catherine McCandless right here.
By Gareth O'Malley, 24 April 2013 (Editor rating: 8/10)
¶ When Young Galaxy called their 2011 breakthrough album Shapeshifting, they were making a statement, and indeed, they were shifting toward something new. For their new record, the quintet have gone full-on pop, so fans of one of the previous album's stand-out tracks, the irresistible 'We Have Everything', will feel right at home with Ultramarine, the Canadian band's most accomplished album to date. They've come a long way since their formation, and they can go further still. They certainly have the songs to get them there. Working with Dan Lissvik for Shapeshifting produced rich rewards for the band, so it comes as no surprise that they stuck with him. However, the twist this time around is that they worked with Lissvik in his studio in Sweden. Vancouver to Gothenburg is quite a journey to make to record an album, but the band benefited hugely from uprooting themselves to give Ultramarine some legs.
¶ They also recorded the songs live, as four people in a room (as opposed to what they did previously, parts being sent to Lissvik over email), and this means that there is vitality and energy present in even the slowest of songs on the record. Quite a lot of it is up-tempo, however, and it kicks off with the uplifting dance-pop of 'Pretty Boy', a song which displays the band's new-found confidence, as well as their updated, slick dance-pop sound. Accessibility is their watchword now, and the sonic shift is also marked by the fact that keyboard player Catherine McCandless has taken over lead vocals after stealing the spotlight from lead guitarist Stephen Ramsay. The two founding members are on fire throughout, Ramsay's playing adding an extra dimension to songs like 'Fall For You' and hidden gem 'Out the Gate Backwards'. Similarly, McCandless's vocals are the most powerful they've ever been (case in point, 'New Summer'), but Young Galaxy have grown considerably since it was just those two in the band, and having five members in the band means that their ethereal sound can be fully realised.
¶ As immediate as Ultramarine is as a whole, there are a number of growers on the album, mainly popping up during the album's middle section. It's often that the less instant songs can eventually have the biggest impact, however, and the combination of 'Hard to Tell' and 'What We Want' may take time, but it eventually becomes the point at which the album becomes genuinely special. Darker shades start to creep in from here, manifesting themselves in earnest on 'In Fire', standing out as a slightly more downbeat track that is great on its own, but is sandwiched between the two best songs on the album; namely the aforementioned 'Out the Gate Backwards' and the pitch-perfect pop of 'Privileged Poor' (which really needs to be the next single, if anyone at Paper Bag should happen to read this). Ultramarine is an uplifting and optimistic record in the main, however, and draws to a close on just as high a note as it began with the exquisite 'Sleepwalk With Me'. Their metamorphosis is complete, and Young Galaxy have become a band that should be treasured.
By JEAN-LUC MARSH (Editor rating: A-)
¶ To call Ultramarine a simple dream pop confection would be a disservice. Astral and poetic though it may be, the restrictive labels of genre serve more to pigeonhole than categorize an album of this magnitude and thought. A heavenly amalgam of disco nouvelle, ethereal synthesizers, and the ceremonial voice of now sole vocalist, Catherine McCandless, Ultramarine contains all of the necessary elements to send it beyond the stratosphere, into the celestial realm that Young Galaxy’s name lays claim to.
¶ “Pretty Boy” forms the first and most integral step of this otherworldly odyssey. The cordial clatter of estival drum machines embraces the listener in the clement grasp of a hypnagogic summer. “When we were lost / we found each other / and headed sightless for the city,” sings McCandless in a voice saturated with longing. Violins emerge from the ether en masse like fireflies, filling the air with phosphorescent flecks of alternating melancholy and joy. The moment flickers and fails in a kaleidoscope of conflicting emotions. “You’re my pretty boy, always” she warbles, holding on to the melody for one moment more before it disintegrates into the dusk, initiating the dream.
¶ The anthemic zenith and magnum opus of Ultramarine comes in the form of third track “New Summer.” What begins as a dissonant assortment of buzzing synths over a background of what seems like pitched whale calls, coalesces into the most magnetic, transfixing four minutes on the album. “Feels like a dream tonight / A little break time / ‘Cause we howl at the moon,” croons McCandless in a gentle, rhythmic caress, expanding into a midsummer hymnal. Beneath the glossy instrumental dimension, lies a layer of nostalgia intensifying the transitory beauty that “New Summer” attempts, and succeeds in capturing. “It never would have been as good if built to last / We never would have stood a chance if it didn’t move fast.” Time comes to a standstill, and the last moments of “New Summer” are reserved for hopeless dreamers who want to waltz the night away while howling at moon, preserving the perfection of a moment that will never repeat itself.
¶ Nothing else on Ultramarine matches the wilting splendor so carefully cultivated on “New Summer,” though gems abound. Unabashedly resplendent with Balearic synths and a sing-along chorus set to a captivating calypso cadence, “Fall For You” abandons all hinting toward a tropical ambiance and embodies the paradise that lies beyond the celestial halo. “Hard to Tell” grows on the listener, its eccentricity and skyward piano grounded by the McCandless’ contralto as she sings “Bring me back to your forest home / and marry me under its trees.” The intrepid rhythm of “What We Want” is funky enough to resemble a blurry figment of a Dadaistic dream, and perfect for a cosmic dance.
¶ “In Fire” stands out for a different reason, marking the only weak moment on Ultramarine. A black sheep amidst the airy, whimsical flock, its relatively gloomy melody and lyrics such as “Worker bees under a spell / digging unmarked graves,” set it apart from an otherwise upbeat collection.
The dark detour of “In Fire” aside, Ultramarine is a last refuge for dreamers; a compilation meant to be played while speeding down some deserted country road at nightfall with the wind in your hair and the stars in your eyes. Time is fragmented and frozen, and urgency becomes but a distant triviality. However, what truly makes Ultramarine penetrate beyond the passé realm of feel-good electropop, are the subliminal hints of evanescent existence scattered amidst the stardust. All dreams must come to an end. Until then, McCandless intends to make the most of what precious time remains. “Come sleepwalk with me,” she beckons, and with that she whisks you away to a sparkling synthetic azure. [A-]
|Young Galaxy — Ultramarine (2013)|