Release Date: Apr 12, 2011
Record label: Temporary Residence
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Alternative Pop/Rock, Post-Hardcore, New Wave/Post-Punk Revival, Noise-Rock
On 2006's Settle Down City and 2008's Old Wounds, Young Widows weren't exactly the first band to turn to when seeking out songs of emotional venting. What the Louisville trio could be relied on to provide was sheer, unadulterated power, delivering punishing noise rock in the fine tradition of the Jesus Lizard and the collected roster of the Amphetamine Reptile label, punctuated even further by the monolithic wall of amplifiers they lugged around the country with them on tour after tour. So, what happens when guitarist/vocalist Evan Patterson, bassist Nick Theineman, and drummer Jeremy McMonigle turn down their volume knobs ever so slightly and crank up the pathos on In And Out Of Youth And Lightness? In short, they create the best album of their career thus far.
YOUNG WIDOWS play the Garrison on May 12. See listing. Rating: NNNN In the past, there was one thing you could count on from Young Widows: pure, unadulterated volume. On their third LP, the Louisville post-hardcore trio dial back some of the noise, letting their minimalist drum-bass-guitar set-up stretch out into the newfound spaciousness.
Post-hardcore's finest return with their third album, a fine one at that... Reviewing Young Widows used to be a simple case of referencing their past lives in abrasive hardcore combo Breather Resist and rattling off something about The Jesus Lizard, before sodding off for a well-earned cuppa. Well, pay attention, because the game done changed... Don’t be misled by the throbbing post-punk of lead single ‘Future Heart’; on the whole, this is a far more downbeat and stripped back affair, with many tracks closer in spirit to the doomed Americana of latter-day Swans.
In and Out of Youth and Lightness finds Louisville’s Young Widows stripping back their metal edge and incorporating some gloom and doom. Still menacing, even without all the screaming and bashing, the sparse, cavernous textures created by My Morning Jacket producer Kevin Ratterman combined with the songs’ jagged dissonance make them severely tense. “The Guitar,” from 2008’s Old Wounds, hinted at this slow and spacious direction, and much of the three-piece’s 2011 album plays at a similarly steady pace, half-filled with music that culminates from goth, blues, and no wave, and half-filled with darkness.
Well, well, well – if Settle Down City and Old Wounds were the mourning cries of a band too in thrall the cremated corpse of The Jesus Lizard (and to a lesser extent former incarnation mathcore group Breather Resist), it seems that In & Out Of Youth And Lightness finally sees Kentucky three-piece Young Widows let go of those ashes and watch them disintegrate in the abyss into which they now plunge. And what an unnerving chasm this is to fall into. Produced in the upper levels of a funeral home by Kevin Ratterman (who has previously worked with My Morning Jacket), you can forget all that you may know about this band, because it will be stripped and burned away along with every bit of gentle warmth you have left in that soul of yours.
Flying the flag for their hometown of Louisville, Kentucky, [a]Young Widows[/a] uphold its reputation for enabling ex-hardcore kids to create creepy, gloomy guitar music. They might not be quite as epochal as [a]Slint[/a] or [a]Will Oldham[/a] in this regard, but [b]‘In And Out…’[/b], their third album, takes leggy strides on from the previous two. The considerable [a]Jesus Lizard[/a] influence of old is now a vehicle to explore great plains of blackened swamp-rock; Evan Patterson’s lyrical turns of phrase are still subtly unsettling, and the overall collision of punk and blues is a bit like [a]Grinderman[/a], without the spectre of ironic smirking.
Back in the 1990s, there was a particular male vocal style that pretty much ran shit in underground rock: A clenched, detached, sneery tough-guy sing-speak, a swaggering couldn't-care-less nasal honk that spoke to passivity and aggression in equal amounts. Girls Against Boys, Morphine, Urge Overkill-- these bands had little in common musically, but they all worked some variation on that particular vocal style. For whatever reason, it's gone almost extinct in indie rock over the past 10 years or so, but Young Widows frontman Evan Patterson is the rare guy who still sings that way.