Album Review: Young Jesus – ‘Welcome to Conceptual Beach’

THERE is indeed something of early Christianity in John Rossiter, the frontman and songwriter for Young Jesus, an emerging emo-jazz-rock band from LA – at least, if you imagine it as a sort of hippie commune chanting together on the shore of a body of water. This is an album where the live sense of communion with an artist and a band is perfectly recreated, which is something obviously precious in these times.

“Lark” is one of the longest tracks on Welcome To Conceptual Beach and, as such, provides a perfect summary of the record in this respect. Rossiter’s vocals, edging towards a falsetto as Peter Silberman’s or Antony Hegarthy’s throughout the album, here reach their most sober but also histrionic rendition. Anyone remembers Josh T. Pearson in his Lift To Experience days? The song itself undergoes multiple moods, from casual collective joy, to silent meditation, to a slow-burning progression of jubilation, where all the riff-writing skills of the band emerge.

Throughout history, larks have been consistently associated with wisdom, spirituality (e.g. in the Hindu tradition) and, ultimately, of the immortality of the soul. This is the sort of transfiguration Young Jesus aim at in Welcome To Conceptual Beach, and no less. Through the progressive accumulation of noise in the middle of the song, emerges a new, purer being, flying through time and space on the wings of the beautiful riffs; a sort of joyful Built To Spill. Many other bands have been sourcing for inspiration for their style from great alt-rock and Midwest emo bands of the 90s during these years, but none have done it so freely and buoyantly as Young Jesus.

“I wanna be around and living”, screams John in “Meditations” in a liberating progression from mutter to scream, and this is the core, atomic message of the album, reproduced in “Welcome to Conceptual Beach” too with a sort of biblical mundane symbolism. The palette of musical styles, on the other hand, as in the sax-piano duet in “Pattern Doubt”, is a testament to the sheer musical skills and passion of the band – just a song later, you can see them turn into Red House Painters (“(un)knowing”).

Developing over nearly 50 minutes of music in just seven tracks, Welcome To Conceptual Beach is an impressive collection of musical suites, each hosting unpredictable shifts and cathartic melodic riffs. A must-listen before the end of the year, out in August from Saddle Creek.

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