Younghusband are one of those bands who seem to be around for so long that it takes you a bit by surprise when you realise they’ve only just recorded their debut album. Euan Hinshelwood has been making music since his early teens, was a member of Emmy The Great‘s band for some time, and released his first EP with Younghusband in 2007. So, six years on from that debut release, is Dromes worth the wait?
It’s certainly an understated record – quiet and laid-back, with Hinshelwood often murmuring his vocals quietly. It comes as no surprise to see the producer for Dromes is one Nicolas Vernhe, who has previously worked with Deerhunter and Wild Nothing, and he helps to create similarly blissed-out atmospherics for Younghusband. As the title may suggest, this isn’t quite Drone, but it skillfully treads the dividing line between hypnotic rhythms and repetitive boredom.
Younghusband are a band who wear their influences on their sleeves – the aforementioned Deerhunter are an obvious example, but there are hints of Stereolab to be found on several tracks, while the drowsy, narcotic haze of Divisions beautifully conjures up memories of early Spiritualized or Spaceman 3. Yet Hinshelwood and company aren’t mere copyists, in thrall to their heroes: rather, they build their own sound using the aforementioned artists as inspiration.
The dreamy Running Water introduces the album, and it’s a pretty good indication of the album as a whole – Hinshelwood’s hazy vocals meshing perfectly with the slowly building guitar lines washing gently underneath him. At other times, the energy level is raised with Silver Sisters sounding like the perfect summer single, while Constantly In Love is beautifully sad, the seemingly optimistic glow which the title promises soon giving way to a self-loathing wallow as Hinshelwood berates himself for being “useless all the time”.
And just when you think you’ve got the measure of Younghusband, they surprise with two instrumentals nestling in the middle of the album. Simply entitled * and **, the former has a weird sense of menace which you could easily imagine being utilised in a Tarantino film, while the latter is a gorgeous swoon of a song which will surely impress fans of Richard Hawley. All breathy sighs and intricate guitar lines, the only problem with it is its brevity – at less than 90 seconds, it’s almost over before it’s begun.
Some people may find that the hypnotic arrangements wash over the listener too easily, and at times you have to strain to hear Hinshelwood’s vocals as they’re often buried underneath the reverb. Yet, after a few listens, songs like Wavelength and Reunion Message bury themselves into your brain and refuse to leave. Although at times some tracks threaten to become a bit too languid and laidback for their own good, there’s still plenty here to declare Drones well worth the wait.