Younghusband’s 2013 début Dromes may have been slightly overdue, considering frontman Euan Hinshelwood had started the ball rolling from his bedroom around six years beforehand, but it proved worth the wait: the reverb and phase soaked, blissed-out offering conjured up comparisons to The Jesus And Mary Chain, Stereolab and Spacemen 3 amongst others.
It had all taken off somewhat by chance too, with Hinshelwood sending demos to New York producer Nicolas Vernhes (Deerhunter) in the hope he would take a personal interest, as they had no money to pay for his services. Luckily, he did, promptly making room in his busy schedule by booking a two week slot to record with the now fully fleshed out band at Chapel Studios, Lincolnshire before the album was sent back to the Big Apple for remixing.
For second album Dissolver, Robert Hampson of LOOP is behind the desk; as there is less reverb and effects, more of the melodic side to Hinshelwood’s songwriting is revealed, the band this time decamping from the hectic hustle and bustle of their London base for two weeks to record in the (quieter?) surroundings of central Bristol at Geoff Barrow’s Invada Studios.
The quartet first returned after their début with single Better Times in August; it boasts an impressive, flowery guitar melody backed by gentle keyboards to give a late ‘60s psychedelic feel, which may be a little unexpected given the aforementioned influences all over Dromes. Both She Lies Awake and sub three minute opener Waverley Street follow a similar vein, the latter benefiting from a pronounced guitar line that drives the track alongside some rather splendidly melodic vocals, but it’s already becoming clear that Dissolver is not going to push the same boundaries explored by their début.
The faster paced Blonde Bending is a more interesting effort, at times sounding like a speedier, warped mash up of The Beatles’ Something and While My Guitar Gently Weeps, but some tracks bring little to the party at all – like the dull Orange Flare and the uninspiring Misguided Light – whilst Only For You trudges along blandly for the most part with an unconvincing melody that sounds instantly forgettable and incohesive.
Nick Cave’s oft-partner in crime Warren Ellis took a liking to Younghusband and it represents quite a coup that the multi-instrumentalist contributes to a couple of the songs here. Heavy Expectations plods into existence in lazy style with a fuzzy intermittent riff, then does its best to liven things up briefly before a cheesy keyboard line takes the track to its conclusion. Ellis’ second appearance is on the six minute closing title track, where caution is thrown to the wind to produce a brilliant cut. Ellis’ sprawling violin is exemplary; it’s the album’s biggest highlight and a much closer cousin to Dromes.
Younghusband could probably do with your money – having had several guitars stolen from rehearsals in Hackney – and you could do a lot worse than invest in Dissolver, but don’t expect an epic that takes Dromes and ramps it up a few notches to catch up with the likes of TOY and Crocodiles. This is firmly heading towards the subtler, less heavy summery sounds of The Proper Ornaments and Ultimate Painting and, while there’s little wrong with that, it may be a little disappointing to those that were so impressed by their occasionally mouth-watering first.