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Album Review: Fair Youth by Maybeshewill

For some bands their willingness and ability to progress and seek new boundaries with each album is their greatest strength. Maybeshewill are one such band and the release of Fair Youth further highlights this. We’ll make no bones about it; the Leicester based instrumental post rockers have made a bold move with Fair Youth, such is the change in sound from their 2008 debut Not For Want Of Trying. The band could end up alienating many of their oldest and most ardent fans.

So what exactly has changed? Well, Maybeshewill’s major draw was their ability to combine mellow moments with big crunching guitars – building a song from driving but quiet beginnings into monstrous, emotion laden behemoths. Crunching guitars and ferocious drumming could sit on an album and not look out of place with delicate keys and sampled strings. It would all come together in one affectingly brilliant piece of music. The band may have become less reliant on those crunching guitars, but they were still a staple of their superb 2011 album I Was Here For A Moment, Then I Was Gone. With Fair Youth not only have those crunching guitars disappeared but the song structure has changed, going towards a meandering God Is An Astronaut style post rock experiment.

The most striking thing about Fair Youth is its reliance on synthesised sounds and keyboards, the guitars have been shunned to the background, yet there’s still heavy emphasis upon the booming and driving drumming of James Collins. The change in sound is massive and affects the feel of the album. While you cannot find fault in the keyboards of Matthew Daly (they sound fantastic and have a great structure), you initially miss the guitars that added such an emotional weight to previous efforts.

With all that said, Fair Youth is by no means a bad album, in fact it’s a very strong and commanding album. It is ridiculously upbeat – a direct influence of the prominent keyboards. The keyboard melodies will resonate in your mind long after their final notes. There are some fantastic songs within Fair Youth, ‘In Amber’, ‘All Things Transient’, ‘Sanctuary, ‘Permanence’ and especially album closer ‘Volga’ are amongst some of the best work produced by Maybeshewill.

The biggest flaw of Fair Youth – not being as immediate as previous releases – is washed away after a couple of listens. The more you listen to the album, the more it grows on you – with each listen you’ll find new nuances and fall in love with different parts. Before long you’ll find it sitting comfortably with their previous releases.

A reinvention of sorts, Fair Youth will surprise and perhaps displease old fans. Change is good though, if you don’t get it on first listen perseverance will be rewarded. You can’t help but enjoy this album. While it may not hit the same highs as previous albums Fair Youth creates a host of new and different high points.

AD rating 7.5/10

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