Young Empires – [Album]

Young Empires – [Album]

Friday, 18 September 2015
ARTIST: Young Empires – [Album]
with free mp3 download for ‘Uncover Your Eyes’ from The Gates by Young Empires
DATE: 09-18-15
REVIEW BY: Bill Adams
ALBUM: The Gates
LABEL: Pirates Blend/Sony Music

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It’s difficult to qualify an album as simultaneously smooth and defiant, but that’s the only way to accurately define Young Empires’ debut full-length album. On first listen, no one will argue that The Gates isn’t smooth; from the second “Mercy” bursts out to open the album, listeners are hit with a wall of dense, chilled out and synthetic sound coupled with a vocal tone which can only be called “slick” – the vocal tones which ran out of pop when people cared about what was playing on dance floors in Ibiza come to mind as comparable. The presentation is a little overwhelming at first at first but, after listeners have adjusted to where the band is coming from, they discover the noticeably defiant streak which also runs through the band; the lyrics from The Gates’ title track (which is the second song on the album) – particularly stanzas like “No I won’t lose hope/ No I won’t lose sight/ But heaven is a place I just can’t find/ Run from the shadows and run to the light/ Running from a past I left behind” – make that defiance perfectly clear. It’s a little unsettling at first (particularly due to the glossy pop sheen applied so liberally to the song) but, as listeners settle in, they’ll come to find that the sounds brim with fresh possibilities for pop and rock.

As easy as it is to get into and as exciting as it could be for those who are looking for something genuinely new, the catch about The Gates quickly becomes how comfortable listeners are with accepting this strain of pop that the band is peddling and that the defiant streak in the music is so understated – these two things simply do not go together as easily as they do here. In this case, for example, it’s really, really easy to find oneself humming along with the melodies of “Ghosts,” “Stranglehold” and/or “House Lights” because they are so hooky and crest atop dance-pop rhythms which are easy to follow, but it feels weird to do too because the lyrics don’t always line up with the tone of the fare (check out the big and huge but lugubrious sounds of “Ghosts” and then the lyric sheet which begins “Searching for some friendship – if I could only find it/ The anticipation’s greater than a first kiss,” or the lines “It’s hard to fake what I’ve become/ The blood runs with a craving” from “House Lights”); as a result, listeners will find they’ll end up either hesitating or doing a half-step before they give themselves to each song on The Gates as they’re rolled out.

…They’ll pause, but only if they’re inclined to think about what they’re hearing beforehand; if they just give themselves over to the rhythms on The Gates and ride the rhythm for all its worth, you may find that you enjoy the music more than you would if you were thinking about it. Perhaps that’s the point and the lesson which can be learned from both Young Empires in general and The Gatesin specific: not everything needs to be a thinking man’s endeavor to be enjoyable. That’s the possibility that I took away from this album – if you let yourself go, reader, you might find you’re in love.


Young Empires – The Gates – “Uncover Your Eyes” – [mp3]


The Gates
is out now. Buy it here on Amazon .

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