Songs framed in simplicity will always stand up on their own strength. This maxim I hold true. Case in point, the new album from Canadian quintet Young and Sexy. I have been blessed to have reviewed the last three Y&S albums. I found the previous Panic When You Find It an accomplished work. Glad to report that even by those high standards, Y&S have surpassed their own precedents with The Arc.
The best part about The Arc is its eclecticism. Between the twin vocals of Paul Pittman and Lucy Brain, the band flitters from alt-country to shoegaze and from baroque pop to prog folk. All presented in deceptively minimalist fashion which belies the depth and complexity of each song.
In the modern rock context, sometimes Y&S sounds like Fleet Foxes, sometimes The Decemberists and even Bon Iver or Joanna Newsom. Such is the sonic diversity Y&S have achieved. My personal faves are the ones which shimmer and tingle.
Like the opening Saucerful of Fire (with its gorgeous wall of vocals), the peerless (sorry) Peer Through The Lock (with Lucy Brain’s ghostly vocal delivery), the wide-eyed Step Inside (with its epic church organ), the haunting The Fog (with its unique time signature) and the bare-boned The Echo (with Pittman’s sincere pining over the chorus mesmerizing).
Certainly, The Arc is up there with the best albums of 2008 so far, notwithstanding the willful tangents of the instrumental The Shadow and the incongruent Spill the Sky. Still, Up in the Rafters provides an atmospheric country-folk ballad that closes The Arc beautifully with – “Prayed for a way home/My love is nowhere to be seen/Have I misplaced this love?/Or thrown it all away?”