Thursday, September 8, 2011

Young Legionnaire - Crisis Works

01. Twin Victory
02. Numbers
03. Chapter, Verse
04. Even the Birds
05. Black Lions
06. A Hole In the World
07. These Arms
08. Blood Dance
09. Nova Scotia
10. Mortgage Rock
11. Young Salute
12. Futures Finished

To some, Young Legionnaire is a super-group in the sense that members have previously played in other, well-received bands (and continue to). To others, they’re a super group exclusively on their own merits. To these ears: a bit of both. There’s no doubt the trio make an impressive, melodically savvy racket – think Foo Fighters with greater crunch, or a clean-shaven Biffy; post-hardcore without the more cacophonous catharsis. But there’s the nagging feeling that the end result of their efforts doesn’t completely add up to more than the sum of its impressive parts. Crisis Works is accomplished, polished in all the right ways (it sounds good without the grit at the heart of the songs becoming obscured), but perhaps lacks the soul that a musician’s primary project might be instilled with.

Frontman Paul Mullen puts in a committed performance, the ex-yourcodenameis:milo man, currently in The Automatic, able to switch from understated reflection to soaring might come the choruses. His versatility lends Crisis Works essential variety – over its 12 tracks, there’s a good spread of influences coming to the fore, and the interplay between the melodic and rhythmic elements is superbly studied. The band is completed by Bloc Party’s Gordon Moakes on bass and drummer Dean Pearson; originally, Brontide/La Roux sticksman William Bowerman sat at the kit, but demands on his time meant he handed ownership of the stool over to Pearson. At times they recall the tightly-wound punk of stateside outfits like Hot Snakes and Wichita labelmates The Bronx – propulsive, punchy, yet relatively minimalist of instrumentation. At others, they dip into emo waters: not Fall Out Boy style, but more turn-of-the-millennium Jade Tree/Deep Elm in approach. It’s a commendable mix, and one that instantly clicks with listeners of a certain age (hello, this listener).

The only problem is that such a sound hasn’t aged brilliantly, which while not an issue for fans of the Small Brown Bikes and Promise Rings of this world, does rather leave Young Legionnaire at odds with current rock fashions. But such is the transitory nature of this side-project endeavour that it shouldn’t matter – more than anything else, Crisis Works comes over as a labour of love. No, it doesn’t have that extra something, a spark to truly make it essential. But these players have carefully assembled a collection that ticks their own boxes, and there’s much to be said for personal gratification over trend-chasing commercial mindsets. A very respectable debut, all told, and one that deserves an eventual

1 comment:

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