Album Review: Spirit Youth by The Depreciation Guild
Very Good, Based on 4 Critics
AllMusic - 80 Based on rating 8/10
The Depreciation Guild's second album stands as proof positive that the band is much more than just a Pains of Being Pure at Heart side project. While the video game electronics and fuzz-pedals-on-11 sound of their 2007 debut album had plenty of charm, Spirit Youth shows that the Guild's approach has grown by leaps and bounds since then. If they're still using actual Nintendo technology to generate beats and synth riffs, it sure doesn't sound like it.
Back when the Deprecation Guild self-released their 2007 debut, In Her Gentle Jaws, they were best known for spiking their shimmering morsels of dream-pop with pixelated Famicom flourishes, a distinctive yet potentially distracting gimmick that the then-duo seamlessly enfolded into their sound. One Pains of Being Pure at Heart later-- the Slumberland sensation that features Guild frontman Kurt Feldman on drums, and utilizes Guild guitarist Christoph Hochheim on tour-- and the band that was around before POBPAH even formed is now better known for their membership in that group. The surprising success of the Guild's day job isn't the only thing that's changed between then and now.
It shouldn’t be too much of a surprise that the chief songwriter of the Depreciation Guild is Kurt Feldman, one fourth of the Pains of Being Pure at Heart. Both bands play gorgeous, buzzy keyboard melodies, laid thick with candied synthesizers and guitars, and both owe a lot of their charm to cutesy, rosy-cheeked nostalgia. They write songs about youth with a certain unspoiled genuineness, even if it’s something as potentially cloying as a library love story or a nighttime fairy tale.
On their striking debut LP, 2007’s self-released In Her Gentle Jaws, Brooklyn’s Depreciation Guild combined various sounds of the moment—eight-bit blips and beeps borrowed from the rising chiptune scene, fuzzed-out guitars from the shoegaze revivalists—to create a swirling brand of indie-pop all their own. In the intervening years, like-minded artists have seen their stars rise, most notably, Depreciation Guild frontman Kurt Feldman and guitarist Christoph Hochheim’s other band, the Pains of Being Pure at Heart. In light of this fact, it would have been all too easy for the Guild to either ride the Pains’ coattails or lean closer toward a well-defined, trendy aesthetic (chiptune, shoegaze, chillwave, etc.).