Electric Honey, Stow College’s in-house record label, has launched a number of important releases over the years from its Glasgow base, including material from Snow Patrol, Teenage Fanclub and Biffy Clyro. Such a reputation can only help new bands as they strive to build careers in a swamped market, desperate for attention. The latest band to emerge from the label consists of three young lads hailing from Ireland, now residing in Glasgow, with their take on fuzzy-guitar pop garage rock.
Young Aviators were formed in 2009 but it wasn’t until 2011 that they released their first effort, a download only EP that contained a couple of unusual covers for a young band to choose – an acoustic version of Hank Williams’ Cool Water as well as a Johnny Cash track. Subsequent EPs followed in 2011, the first of which, False Education, gave a taste of the band’s own discontent with society as the post-graduate world of little or no job prospects began to dawn; musically, Royalty And Riots in particular was overflowing with vibrant energy and The Hunting For Heaven EP followed in the same vein soon after.
Recorded in early 2013 at Glasgow’s Chem19 Studio, Self Help opens with the catchy Sunrise On The Motorway, a bouncy, upbeat number that sounds like an energetic Supergrass effort once it gets past its ’60s psychedelic beginnings; guitars race, accompanied by incessant hi-hat and powerful rhythm section. There are smatterings of similarities to early Arctic Monkeys throughout the offering, the first being new single Forward Thinking that opens with a thumping bassline recalling the beginnings of the epic guitar solo from Stone Roses’ I Am The Resurrection. Its repetitive lyrics of “need to start some forward thinking” pretty much encapsulate the band’s entire despair at post-university life, and singer/guitarist Declan McKay has even stated that the whole album is about “being stuck in the doldrums”.
Other Arctics-influenced moments include We’ve Got Names For Folks Like You with its challenging, antagonistic almost punk-like spouted lyrics and, most obviously, A Love To Change Your Ways; it’s a compelling track with some more bouncy guitar work propelling the song forward, coupled with a decent vocal melody and more prevalent hi-hat.
But Young Aviators have their own identity that touches various other influences: Deathrays In Disneyland is a sad observation of conflict; its minimal piano-led base portrays despair and sounds like a song that The Pogues’ Shane MacGowan would love to wrap his thick Irish drawl around. More conventional ‘indie-of-today’ tracks also pop-up, with First Day On Earth and Future Pill racing along like a cross between Maxïmo Park and The Pigeon Detectives. Rejection Letter is another burst of anarchy, the driving rhythm section thundering the song through an impressive instrumental section that takes the band to its heaviest moment before Sunset On A Motorway closes the album, merely a reprise of the opening track.
With the album over after just 27 and a half minutes, one wonders why some of the older EPs were not included in the package; perhaps the themes tackled within these songs didn’t sit as comfortably next to the overall message of the album, but it feels a little too short. What Young Aviators have managed to do though is to place themselves firmly upon the indie-rock map and, for once, the lyrics feel vital rather than meaningless or indecipherable, despite being fairly simplistic. Whilst there will be never be a repeat of the shock element raised by the appearance of punk, it is no bad thing to hear a band, however muted in comparison, returning to what the majority of significant movements have had at their foundations – a voice for disgruntled/dejected youths, which will be an interesting and contrasting ingredient on their upcoming support slots in Scotland for the rather less confrontational Travis.