Until very recently, I was content with believing that I’d never hear a record like this debut album by Austin, TX’s The Young, ever again, for as long as I continue to take up space on this planet. There is hope; therefore, this will be a very difficult review to write.
Voyagers of Legend’s opening tracks “Captive Chains” and “Quintana the Killer” set expectations at a mid-to-high level, certainly enough to keep the non-reviewer listening. Those expectations are then shattered and lost to amnesia, right about the time the vocals start in “Phoebis Cluster.” That’s not to say that the first two are filler; the opener flattens both of the Sub Pop Comets on Fire LPs (whoa – Ed.), and the follow-up is obviously a partial idea and perhaps an idea of what this band used to sound like…a better-than-competent punk-pop band unashamedly leaning on garage structure as a vehicle. But the rest of this record … Christ on a crutch, there hasn’t been a full-length this spot-on with mood and 1%’er hooks in years. YEARS. Inspirational stuff, and while I assure the readership of this journal that I don’t plan on starting a band – ever – this effort reminds me of hearing certain landmark indie rock titles for the first time, a long, long time ago, and deciding that whatever was coming out of the speakers was going to both run and ruin the rest of my life (this action already in progress, as planned).
The beauty of Voyagers of Legend, and the difference between first-exposure moments with, say, the first Dinosaur record or Vampire on Titus or The Mother of All Saints, is that I’m not hearing a new style of music in the process of being established or invented. What I’m hearing is sonic familiarity in four or five styles mashed together, one or two of which have had the life beaten out of them by the mediocrity of product farted out in the past three years. This record isn’t a special one behind inventiveness; rather, this record is a masterpiece of exhumation that uses once-dead sonic vehicles to communicate uncalculated, uncontrollable soul, inspiration, sadness, and what can only be called “real shit,” through first-thing-in-the-morning-to-last-thing-before-bed HOOKS and unbelievably expressive (sometimes single-note) guitar solos, leads, riffs, rave-ups, etc. If I were to list the bands that are trying to do this or that would give their firstborn to do this, you would be reading along as this record review transformed into a novella-length roll-call.
This is the type of record that you think about all day and can’t wait to get home and listen to. This is the type of record that becomes an evening closer that you look forward to more than any other portion of the night … romantic train wrecks included. What about songs other than the three mentioned above? What about side 2? Is that some whining I detect? That you still have no idea what this band sounds like, or the genres in which they tread? What exactly do you need spelled out? Make this go out of print. Like most Mexican Summer releases, there are 1000 of these. They’re still around. Pick it up. Buy the next single or album by The Young, sound unheard, and do what you can to see and support this band, because if they break up or go away, we’ll then be presented with proof that music (the people who make it, the people who write about it, and most of all the people who need it to live a happy life) is indeed fucked beyond repair. (http://www.mexicansummer.com)
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