There’s a point during Youngbloods where you think that, actually, if you leave all musical snobbery and lofty expectations at the door, it could have the potential to be quite mindlessly enjoyable. For me, that moment was about 47 seconds into opening track ‘I Hate Hartley’. By the end of the third track, it had passed. For those who have yet to discover The Amity Affliction, the Aussie boys prescribe heavy doses of breakdowns, screamed verses and bubblegum choruses whilst flirting with electronic elements. You already know whether you can handle that, but can you handle having a vacuous idea (or lack there of) relentlessly hammered into your cranium?
Upon first listen it quickly becomes clear that there’s way too much going on here. The compositions are completely drowned in a melee of electronic sounds; synthesisers, vocal effects and auto-tuning (don’t even get me started on auto-tuning – if you can’t do it naturally, don’t do it at all). Trying to pick out the music beneath the electronic bleeps is an effort in itself, and that’s when it all starts to become clear.
There is very little substance beneath the electronic dressing. Aside from simplistic palm muted chugging, tired chord progressions and perhaps one riff in the entire album, the musical well is pretty much empty. That’s when you realise that there isn’t too much going on here at all – there’s not enough. It seems like the electronic elements have been introduced merely to disguise the fact that the compositions are bereft of ideas and void of substance.
But it does have some redeeming qualities. ‘RIP Forghorn’ is a catchy, feel-good anthem with a message, which would, along with any one of these numbers, go down a storm at a party. And if you can stomach the sickly sweet choruses, then there’s no denying that bassist and co-vocalist Ahren Stringer can pen a decent earworm melody (even if he does have to use auto-tuning to achieve it – no, I will not let this go!).
The lyrics are the album’s consistent strength. Everybody loves a good metaphor and a few clever rhymes and the prevalent subject of internal demons at least shows a band trying to make a connection with their audience. The recurring theme of triumphing over suicide is a credible one and certainly holds more weight than songs about getting trashed and snorting lines of coke off of a hooker’s inflamed genital warts. Unfortunately the lyrical content is let down by the quality of the music.
Youngbloods suffers from a lack of ideas. It takes a blueprint and runs it through the photocopying machine until you can’t recognise one print from the other and they eventually all merge together leaving you covered in paper cuts. And nobody likes paper cuts.
The Amity Affliction’s Facebook Page: http://www.facebook.com/theamityafflictionofficial
Roadrunner Records’ Website: http://www.roadrunnerrecords.com/