Young Galaxy Ultramarine

Young GalaxyUltramarine
Young Galaxy received an icy electronic makeover on 2011's Shapeshifting, courtesy of Studio's Dan Lissvik, and the group opted to stick with the Swedish producer for the follow-up. Unlike their previous collaboration, which was conducted remotely via Skype, the band recorded Ultramarine with Lissvik in Gothenburg, and the results are once again sonically stunning. The lush, rhythm-oriented arrangements are gorgeously constructed, with standout moments including the touches of barroom piano on the funky "Out the Gate Backwards" and the percussive, 16-bit-sounding samples on "Privileged Poor." The focus is the production rather than the songs, and Ultramarine is sadly missing the killer choruses required for a great pop album. Of the melodies, only the wistful "New Summer" and the new age swoon of "Sleepwalk with Me" make a lasting impression. The rest of the songs are largely dark and theatrical, favouring cinematic seriousness over hooks. The fact that the epic-voiced Catherine McCandless has taken over full frontwoman duties (rather than sharing the mic with Stephen Ramsay) adds to the overall sense of drama. Still, Young Galaxy's ever-increasing studio prowess, not the mention the involvement of Lissvik, makes up for the lack of hummable tunes. (Paper Bag)