Release Date: Jun 10, 2016
Record label: Fat Possum
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock
You can't read an article or review on Yung without seeing their music contextualised into some greater Danish punk movement. With the release of impressive debut album A Youthful Dream, this trend is only going to continue. Touted by NME and featured by The Guardian as leaders in a new wave of Scandi bands making waves in the wake of scene leaders Iceage, Yung is the baby of 21-year-old Mikkel Holm Silkjaer – a prominent figure in the DIY sounds of hometown Aarhus.
From the opening of ‘The Hatch’ until the dying moments of ‘A Youthful Dream’, Yung’s debut album is constantly wrestling with itself. It’s murky, muddled and littered with distraction - but there’s a single-minded focus and blind optimism driving it forward. The struggle is real but ‘A Youthful Dream’ couldn’t be easier to get along with.
Yung is a band that plays like they just met at a BP gas station and decided to hook up their Fenders on a whim. Yet, they somehow effortlessly turn garage rock into something that’s refreshingly well-orchestrated. It helps that they really know how to play, the vocals are in tune and the metal hinges on the creaking doors of their post-punk product unpredictability never quite pop off.
At the turn of the decade, the youthful dream of Copenhagen’s punk scene probably scared the shit out of most adults. Iceage, Lust For Youth, VÅR and Lower were barely out of their teens and gaining international attention with abrasive, often violent music and bloody shows that were a throwback to a time before punk broke (right down to the unfortunate taste in iconography). Five years later, those bands have become elder statesmen, playing festivals, starting experimental side projects and shifting towards more refined sounds.
What is punk pop? In theory, it is an impossible concept: its very name is, after all, an oxymoron. However you choose to define it, it is perhaps the best genre for Yung to very, very loosely hang their debut album on..
The fact that Danish band Yung are retreading old ground on their first album is a moot point: guitar rock currently feels like a place where craggy riffs and rasping vocals are reanimated in order to stir up memories of the past. Those are largely positive memories, admittedly, which makes A Youthful Dream an enjoyable record. Sometimes, as on Blanket, it sounds like a prettified version of the pounding pop-punk that used to soundtrack the Tony Hawk video games, while on tracks such as Uncombed Hair and A Morning View, the band seem more melodic and listless in a Lemonheads vein.
The no-rules approach is very evident on A Youthful Dream, in that it ever so slightly defies the Yung EPs that precede it. Which makes total sense; Silkjær has mentioned that he doesn't "want Yung to be a band that you can put certain labels on," and he does "wish for it to be a project that can principally go in any given direction." So the decision to not churn out 12 full-throttle hits should have been expected. The change in pace becomes noticeable after the tempo-shifting dynamics of "Uncombed Hair." The track that follows, "Morning View," with its jangly, bright guitars and piano melodies, marks the biggest departure from the Yung of old on the entire album.
Over the last couple of years, the Danish DIY band, Yung, have forged a pretty impressive reputation among members and followers of their country’s burgeoning punk and post-punk scene, garnering widespread acclaim for early singles such as “A Stain” and “Nobody Cares”. Driven by a pleasingly scrappy energy and the rough-hewn charm of their singer and songwriter, Mikkel Holm Silkjær, those singles’ reliance on such straightforward, spirited constituent parts was refreshing. On A Youthful Dream, Silkjær and his band have attempted to expand upon their songwriting approach.