Vinyl Vlog 486

Vinyl Vlog 486

Thursday, 25 February 2021
”Nobody’s Favorite” from the Young & Dying in the Occident Supreme EP by Mobley.

A deeper look at the grooves pressed into the Young & Dying in the Occident Supreme 12” EP by Mobley. Such events are undeniably rare in any language, but Mobley’s Young & Dying in the Occident Supreme is possessed of an imagination and design that is simply unheard of. The record goes out of its way to present listeners with a series of ideas which do not correlate; the A-side features six fantastic and undeniably unique pop songs while the B-side features lush instrumental versions of the same six cuts. At the same time, those six pop songs intermingle elements of a multitude of pop sub-genres (surf, salsa, inner city soul and folk are only the tip of a very large iceberg, in this case) and present with particular care taken to ensure that none stand out as being the primary creative drive – they they still manage to assemble together well and, by the end, no listener is left feeling as though the instrumental cuts which populate the B-side can be discarded as “just filler” (as often happens with instrumental tracks); the generous arrangements and instrumentation inserted the lyric-less tracks actually feel like complete works and not as just “bed tracks” or “drive time fodder,” in this case. It’s pretty remarkable how well the set gels together, actually.

As easily and as well as it does come together though, that doesn’t mean it won’t take a moment for listeners to adjust from whatever they might have been listening to or expected prior to a stylus sinking into the A-side here, though. After a female narrator sets the tone for the side with “You Are Not the Hero of this Story,” Mobley hits a very tense and nervous stride with “James Crow” – which is guaranteed to grab and hold listeners’ attention because it feels incredibly nervous and tense – and listeners will want to know why there is so much tension and unease, here.

As the song progresses, “James Crow” gets pretty chilling as it invokes images of segregation and social inequality which ring pretty hard, particularly given the year that was 2020. There’s little question that such is exactly the point here – those who don’t recognize the reference in the song’s title will have difficulty with lyrics like, “You’ve been selling the world on a dead man’s lies/The kind that won’t decay or fade away or pass in time/I play the scientific, I can’t be tamed/ You pray to a religion that can’t be named.”

It’s a hard point to make, particularly in 2021 – but Mobley doesn’t flinch when he makes it here, and manages to digress gracefully at the end of the song so the trip is able to continue.

After “James Crow,” Mobley wisely angles toward something more upbeat and danceable with (the ironically entitled) “Nobody’s Favorite.” There, amid recurring vocal samples and a really great bass line, Mobley sets himself up as the image of the great new talent; from note one, listeners will find themselves hanging on every word as lines like, “I had a dream this is all I want, but the lust is fading” along with the descending riff which runs through the bridge all catch and hold listeners tightly and illustrate that the pop hooks this artist has in his reserve are well assembled and honed flawlessly.

Mobley does break into some lush and surreal kinds of songwriting as the side progresses that no Flaming Lips fan would be able to turn away from (“Mate” is a great example, although Mobley’s voice is a little better and truer than Wayne Coyne’s) before finally simmering down and closing out the side with a great beat in “Lost Boys/Occidental Death.” There, the rhythm and licks employed are ripped right out of The Big Book of R&B Orthodoxy, but illustrate that this young artist already has the form and structures mastered, as it plays. Through every minute of “Lost Boys/Occidental Death,” the beat remains classically danceable in the fine tradition of Michael Jackson, while lines like, “You think you’ve made it but you’re lost, boys/ You never run out of ways to take it from us/ That doesn’t scare me at all/ You’re just a number they call” are the sort that win fans and get regularly yelled back at singers when they’re performed for an audience.

When “Lost Boys/Occidental Death” and the proverbial needle lifts, those who have run top-to-bottom with the side will definitely be ready for more – but playing through the instrumentals on the B-side right after the A- feels like a sorely diminished return. The spark on the B-side just isn’t as bright when one plays the whole record front-to-back; the two sides of of Young & Dying in the Occident Supreme play well individually, but trying to go all-in is definitely a test of one’s patience.

So, with only one side showing, listeners will have to wait patiently for another release. There’s no doubt that the wait will be difficult, but the promise expressed by Young & Dying in the Occident Supreme will definitely inspire patience for a follow-up in those who are won by it. [Bill Adams]


The Young & Dying in the Occident Supreme 12” EP is out now. Buy it here, directly from the artist.

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