Monday, September 26, 2011

The Good Ship Rediscovery: The Young Knives - Voices of Animals & Men

We all forget about the older stuff from time to time, in our quest to stay up to speed with the latest and greatest. But one should always respect their elders. So don’t forget about them, y’hear?

Voices of Animals & Men
isn't a particularly old record (just four years old), but it's one that I feel doesn't really get nearly enough attention. Year after year, I keep going back to The Young Knives and this colossally dynamite album, because it's just that good. And, perhaps in part because they have a band member given the dubious nickname "The House of Lords," which is both glaringly ridiculous and monumentally spectacular.

The record kicks off with the kick in the teeth that is "Part Timer," a song that instantly shows off what The Young Knives represents (that being ferocious, tightly jagged riffs, a rhythm section that fits the mold of British excellence [sounds a bit like Joy Division cracking a fang-bearing smile?], and sharply witty lyrics ["I found it hard to pick up the pen/tomorrow I will try it again/with the sword/with the sword"]). Just offbeat enough, the song tantalizes one more than enough to listen to the remaining thirteen songs. "The Decision" is a slow mocker, full of aggrandizing pomp instrumentally-speaking and wryly amusing lyrical content ("I mixed the matte with the sheen/it's not the way to be seen," and "I am your monarch/your supreme monarch," for starters). Fan as I am of British social commentary, I might go as far as to say The Young Knives does it better than most, maybe even better than anyone since The Kinks.

"Hot summer/hot hot summer," goes the refrain of "Weekends & Bleak Days (Hot Summer," a Stranglers-esque ditty full of "Peaches"-like basslines and the droll boredom that hallmarks this particular record. "Here Comes The Rumour Mill" is a favorite, salaciously staccato and prone to fits of bombastic loudness, and classifies as a triumph. The farcical "She's Attracted To" is another charmer, a class struggle wrapped up in an ode to the difference between parents and their offspring. "Reason I tried/but when reason she died/we were fighting on the drive under the security lights," it goes, set to bounding riffs and slightly sarcastic background "la la la's." "Loughborough Suicide" has been a favorite from the beginning for me, societal angst given a cheeky, musically-pleasing wrapping.

Strangely enough, as much as I love this album, I have yet to dig into the subsequent Young Knives offerings. Perhaps I just haven't been able to tear myself away from this one yet.

m4a: Here Comes The Rumour Mill (The Young Knives from Voices of Animals & Men)

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