The title of this, the second album by Austin four-piece The Young, is misleading. Anyone listening to Dub Egg hoping to hear subsonic bass and indiscriminately-deployed reverb will emerge from the experience sorely disappointed. Instead, The Young specialise in sprawling, psychedelic Americana – pretty much the diametric opposite of dub in every aspect.
Stitching together the album’s 10 songs are vocalist Hans Zimmerman’s guitars – which sound rather like Neil Young hacking through undergrowth – and second guitarist Kyle Edwards’ lead guitar parts, which alternate between chiming prettiness and distorted ugliness. Fans of fellow psych-rock revivalists Comets On Fire and My Morning Jacket at their shaggiest will find much to enjoy here. Rather like The Dude in The Big Lebowski, The Young’s songs amble along in a manner that’s at once purposeful and easily distracted.
They’re at their best when they give into those distractions, as on highlight Don’t Hustle For Love. Its two minutes and 18 seconds are highly eventful, comprising chunky riffage, a twinkling, vibraphone-assisted middle section, and a breakdown during which the bass does its best impression of an approaching mastodon. But at its worst – as on lowlight The Mirage – The Young’s music comes across sludgy in the worst possible way. And, while theirs is the type of music that emphasises sound and texture over hooks, the lack of memorable songs on Dub Egg is undoubtedly a flaw – although opener Livin’ Free (which recalls ’90s roots-rockers Cracker) is an exception.
On first listen Zimmerman’s vocals would seem to be The Young’s weak link: reedy and ethereal, they sound like they would be more at home in a shoegaze act. However, they act as a welcome palliative to the music, which, if combined with some caterwauling Robert Plant wannabe, might have proved overwhelmingly testosterone-saturated. Similarly, some sweeter, quieter moments – like the lovely, pedal steel-flecked closing section of Numb – provide some pleasing contrast to the dominant bluster.
Overall though, Dub Egg sounds like a band still trying to work out what they do best. If The Young can combine the focus and confidence of tunes like Don’t Hustle For Love with greater ambition, they could produce something truly colossal. As it stands, Dub Egg is merely promising.