Release Date: Feb 15, 2011
Record label: Paper Bag Records
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Alternative Pop/Rock, Indie Pop, Dream Pop
Young Galaxy's 2011 release, Shapeshifting, finds the Canadian ensemble shifting from the atmospheric electronica-infused indie pop they perfected on previous outings to a more mature, ambitious brand of '80s-influenced sophisti-pop. Having both female and male lead vocals has always been a particularly distinctive and effective plan of attack for the band, and while Shapeshifting is no exception, it is Catherine McCandless' burnished, warm, and controlled voice that garners most of the album's focus. A commanding presence on record with an almost ritualistic, hypnotic delivery, McCandless brings to mind nothing less than a slightly more arch take on late-'80s Carly Simon -- think "Let the River Run" from the Working Girl soundtrack and you aren't far off.
Young Galaxy - Shapeshifting On their last album, Young Galaxy's sound seemed stuck somewhere between shoegazer ambient pop and stadium-sized rock. It worked better than it reads on paper, but sometimes they were weighed down by their attempts to make big, dramatic musical gestures. As the title of their third album suggests, Young Galaxy have definitely shifted shape this time around, and that's just what they needed.
Divining the inspirations and reasons why behind a record's sound can be tricky business, but sometimes it's obvious. Young Galaxy were a mostly stagnant indie rock band out of Montreal whose dream-pop debut failed to garner any buzz on Arts & Crafts records. When 2009's Invisible Republic reduced their reliance on obfuscation and tightened their rhythms, they still felt like a genre band outside the indie zeitgeist: theatric, self-serious synth-pop.
Webster’s defines shape-shifting as the ability to change form or identity at will. It’s the process of being one thing and transforming into another; mathematically speaking, it’s starting out as x and becoming y. There are several references to it in popular culture, from chameleons blending into their environment to Mystique from the X-Men.
Montreal’s Young Galaxy are making the kind of emotive, grandiose electro-rock that feels both like a throwback and the future. In many ways, the band’s new album, Shapeshifting, has a lot more in common with mid-’90s trip-hop and downtempo than with any current musical trend. But there’s a sincerity and a musicality cribbed from contemporary post-rock that piques one’s interest even when the atmosphere gets a bit overwrought.
Young Galaxy are plowing the fields of reinvention here, but they’ve not abandoned the Cocteauvian dreaminess that’s consistently marked their work. This is synth-ridden and vampy stuff — it’s utilitarian dream pop replete with electronic beats, and it’s all been splashed out on a clean slate. Young Galaxy is revitalized by a clean, approachable dream pop and sensible approaches sitting at the fore of the album.
Young galaxies are volatile places, ablaze with activity and furiously swallowing intergalactic dust to produce new stars from scratch like little factories. Kind of like a band feverishly churning out new songs in a recording studio. Celestial bodies are constantly changing, so in many ways, Canadian dream-pop band Young Galaxy is living up to their name.