Band of the Day

2011.11.29

Young Galaxy

Melodic synth pop infused with 80s fun and a sense of drama
Help me forget all the worry worry. Just split the sky and free me to be golden.
lyrics from We Have Everything

Young Galaxy, a dream pop band from Vancouver, Canada, formed in 2005 as a duo featuring Stephen Ramsay (guitar, vocals) and Catherine McCandless (keyboards, vocals). The group later added multi-instrumentalist Max Henry and drummer James Lynn for live shows. Musically, Young Galaxy writes synth-laden, rhythmic, dance-influenced songs with harmonized vocals. Young Galaxy has released two EPs and three LPs since their debut EP Swing Your Heartache on Arts and Crafts Records. Their most current LP Shapeshifting was released in 2010 on Paper Bag Records, and was produced by Dan Lissvik from Duo Studio in Sweden. The album has received positive regard in the media and got the group nominated for a 2011 Polaris Music Prize, alongside artists such as Arcade Fire, Austra, Sloan and Neil Young.

Montreal, Canada's Young Galaxy prove that zig zagging through a music career can have excellent results. The duo formed in 2007, Vancouver making space rock before moving to Montreal and heavily distorted post-rock. They shifted yet again on their 2011 LP Shapeshifting, a subtly gothic synth-pop record that tops everything they'd ever done before. Shapeshifting recalls the spacious nuggets of poppy darkness the Knife unleashed on the world in the mid 2000s, but with a more organic, warm feel to it. “We Have Everything” is so simple it's hard to describe what makes it perfect. Angsty and joyful at the same time, Catherine McCandless' vocals cut through the mix singing, “Oh save me today / Help me forget all the worry worry / Just split the sky and free me / To be golden.” The synths sound like some genius mixture of a kaleidoscope and a Stairmaster while atmospheric guitars and flanged-out synths set a dramatic background. “Peripheral Visionaries” is sleek and sexy; adjectives that sum up most of the album. Stephen Ramsay and McCandless (who are a couple) trade vocals. “The Angels Are Surely Weeping (Featuring Hanna)” is rich with textures and instrumentation, like Grizzly Bear armed with synths and a love for 80s lounge music. Icy synths combine with a dramatically stomping beat, soaring backing vocals and Ramsay's cool-under-pressure vocals. “B.S.E.” marshals Young Galaxy's love for 80s as McCandless let's it all go, sounding like a cooler than cool Cyndi Lauper. Awesomely cheesy guitar funk and wavering synths join the fight to create five minutes of pure pop fun. Shapeshifting thrives on the strength of its singles, but it's a true album at the same time. It flows smoothly, shifting mood in just the right places, and doesn't suffer from a single minute of filler.