Young Galaxy – Ultramarine

 

ultramarine

Already on the Young Galaxy’s previous album Shapeshifting we could see a move away from the new-wave influenced indie-pop of the first two efforts into synth-based stratospheres. This is a band that for most of their career seemed to have searched for a sonic identity without fully reaching a destination, but not without gaining some new insight with every misstep or effort. The much needed change of scenery proved to be a clever choice, creating an inspired platform to fully realize their potentials. Consequently, Ultramarine is their least experimental album; a culmination of their previous efforts, turned into a fully focused pop album from start to finish. Catherine McCandless beautiful melancholic voice takes central stage and underpins the dreamy atmosphere, while being backed with glazed layers of tropical synthesizers.

The uplifting arpeggio-driven keyboard-play on “Pretty Boy” kick-starts the album, instantly showcasing a band with spot-on songwriting and richer ideas than beforehand. “Pretty Boys” heartfelt sentiment is trailed by the joyous tropical “Fall For You”, a song made flesh with an ecstatically chant-y chorus, further cementing their endlessly rewarding catchy harmonies. The gentle synth-pop ballad “New Summer” follows, pulling the listener in with a sparkling chorus backed with an emotional soundscape. Furthermore, the funky Roisin Murphy akin groove of “Fever” is the most immediately enthralling upon first listen, while the nostalgic vibes of “In Fire” require multiple listens to fully form in the mind. The album ends with “Sleepwalk with me”, a fitting wistful closing to an album that embraced synthesizers not just as a means for creating hooks, but rather as a part of the scenery, backing the melodies with a sonically dreamy palette.

Two of this springs most anticipated synth-pop albums where coincidently released during the same day, but while Phoenix’ Bankrupt! takes an immediate grip on the listener, Ultramarine’s kaleidoscopic ambiance needs room to breathe. Ultramarine’s dreamy emotions breach further beyond anything the band has ever created, showing a band that’s not afraid of embracing change and rolling assuredly with it. And in a head-to-head battle with Bankrupt!, Ultramarine ultimately ends up winning by a slight margin.

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