Album Reviews

Young British Artists – Change By Any Other Name

(YBAs) UK release date: 21 July 2014

Young British Artists - Change By Any Other Name Young British Artists are Mancunians who make raw, guitar driven rock that packs a punch. They write songs in the basement of a house in Manchester City Centre and their debut is all about being young, stupid and making mistakes. Change By Any Other Name is an album that sees the band attempt to capture the stripped-back, ecstatic energy of their live show and put it into a recorded format. It is an effort tampered only by the fact that in its obsession to sustain its raw signature sound, some room for variety and pushing the boundary is lost.

Opening with A New Language, with its highly distorted guitar ringing out, sets you up for the DIY feel to record, and the song springs into something that could be a hands-raised-to-the-sky anthem, as Leo Scott sings until his lungs give out whilst the shimmering guitars swirl around him. This then leads almost directly into the erratic drum beat that forms to base to Salad Days, whilst the shoegaze guitars layer up.

Yet it is Lived In Skin that leads the way, already proving a highlight of the live set and the leading single to the album, reflecting on lost youth. Its the first time that the true energy of the band really permeates through, with its strong descending riff that breaks into a multi-layered blast of sound. The lyrics shine through, and the powerful, super-fast drumbeat really shake up the pulse of the record and encourage you to fasten your seat belts for the ride.

And then you are stopped short. Mirror Trail suddenly brings everything to a halt, and makes the jump from hard, indie stomper to a true shoegaze-driven track. The guitars glimmer, but the song doesn’t hold itself up against the tracks that have come before it. The Lifting Sea and Capsule follow on from this and it is not until we reach Everything In Front Of You that the pulse really picks up speed again and the energy that makes this band truly interesting comes back around. Its exciting chorus and heart-racing pace are exhilarating – scenes of sweaty crowds come to mind.

Kato then swans in, and although only a short shoegaze instrumental, it proves to be an important bridging point between Everything In Front Of You and Blood Brother that pounds in with voodoo drums and haunting guitar feedback. It feels as though this is a track that could really build into something spectacular, but it falls short, either for want of being scared of being too over-the-top or to retain its shoegaze feel. It leaves you feeling a little underwhelmed, as it promises so much, but doesn’t deliver.

The collection of 11 songs ends with Forget Your Past. Right from the opening bars it feels like a much more developed track with a clearer structure, as it plays with layers and has a more defined feel about it, and Scott’s delivery of lyrics that advise you on how to let go of your past. It has a maturity to it, but the album as a whole shows that the band still have a little room for development, even if they’re nearly there.

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