I’ll return to an album for a whole variety of reasons. Some out of nostalgia, some to curb a craving, others to build a mood. But I can never quite put my finger on why I return to ‘Beyond Wilderness‘ from Canada’s own Gold & Youth. It usually just feels right.
Gold & Youth’s first foray into the music sphere began before their debut 2013 release. Members Matt Lyall, Murray Mckenzie and Jeff Mitchelmore explored a side project earlier known as The Racoons which produced a single record ‘Islomania’. When that project faded, the members brought on Louise Burns from Lillix and secured a record deal with Arts & Crafts in 2011. From here, the band began writing what would become the soundscape known as ‘Beyond Wilderness’.
‘Beyond Wilderness‘ feels vibrantly unsaturated. Both full of colour, but overwhelmingly grey. Synthesizer textures have an airy feel, rarely punching out aggressively in the mix, but always thoughtful in their form. Guitar is often layered heavily, providing soft melodies, almost out of tune at times. Vocal harmonies explore both the higher limits of Burns and the depths of Lyall, with Mckenzie providing a consistent range throughout. Some tracks have quite a dark feel and others bright. Their mix rarely spotlights any one instrument, but rather blends them into a comfortable textured sound. It’s a melancholic, but rich sound. One that echoes and rings across every track – no doubt inspired by the mountains and ranges surrounding their home base in Vancouver.
A personal favourite on the album is City Of Quartz, which features a rapidly oscillating drum pad overlain with a euphoric lo-fi guitar line that dances through the chorus effortlessly. Something I think would impress the Lo-Fi champ DeMarco himself. If your looking for an anthem on the album, look no further than Jewel. Also carried along by a constantly evolving drum track, this song instead focusses on a story which builds and builds. Burns calls out over the track, “Down on my knees, nothing to lose… so won’t you tell me what to do?”. Her sound in many ways reminiscent of Arcade Fire’s Régine Chassagne in ‘The Sprawl’. Another honourable mention is the records second track Little Wild Love, which showcases Lyall’s vocal style perfectly, two tracks mixed uniformly: one which rings out high intensity, the other low and soft.
Little Wild Love:
However if you only give this band a once-off, throw on Time To Kill, which could be considered an emblem of the group. It showcases much of what I love about this band: the eloquently somber backbone, the finished melodies,the textured keyboard and tranquil yet powerful vocals. A great addition to any ambient indie mixtape:
Few albums I know go in as many directions as this one – gripped me quite like this one has. I’ve logged over 38 hours with Gold & Youth and needless to say I’m eager for more. From updates online, the band seems to be busy at work in the studio with no real word on a release date. Keep with The Vault to hear our first thoughts when it drops.