Magical electronica from Drive contributors Electric Youth…
Canada seems to have been delivering the goods when it comes to electronic acts in recent years, with the likes of Austra, Trust and Grimes being fine examples of outfits that can slot neatly into the genre, yet each retaining their own unique and contemporary sound.
Joining their ranks is Electric Youth, the 2-piece electronic outfit consisting of Austin Garrick and Bronwyn Griffin. Electric Youth have enjoyed a high profile on the back of cult 2011 film Drive. ‘A Real Hero’ was a collaboration between French electronica artist College and Electric Youth. As part of the soundtrack to Drive it’s integral to the spirit of Ryan Gosling’s mercurial protagonist (“With the strength of a will and a cause/your pursuits are called outstanding”).
There’s a subtle yet effective synth rhythm that keeps things moving on ‘A Real Hero’, while wistful synthetic strings lends the track its emotional core. It’s also a good example of Electric Youth’s style – a subtle blend of warm electronica and a vocal and lyrical touch that manages to touch the heart.
Electric Youth tend to skirt the outer regions of synthwave with a love for analogue synth sounds – elements all present and correct on Innerworld. But there’s something at work in their music that somehow manages to straddle both that love for classic synth sounds, while also sounding quite timeless.
Much of Electric Youth’s lyrical work seems to be concerned with youth, innocence, the fragility of young relationships. At the same time, there’s a captivating quality to their compositions which embrace a twilight palette of sounds that suggest 3am mornings and the sodium glare of endless city highways. Garrick’s flair for melodies works its magic on tunes such as ‘We Are The Youth’ while Griffin’s whispery, seductive vocals draw the listener in (“We are the youth/we won’t age”).
‘Without You’, meanwhile, has a rumbling bass rhythm combined with euphoric synth melodies that touch the heart. “And if you make my poor heart break/Later on you’ll want to find a way to fix it”.
Nestling in the middle of the album is a cover version of the John McGlyn (part of choral outfit Anúna) song ‘All She Wants Is You’, a haunting composition that works just as well as an electronic piece than than the traditional instrumentation of the original. At the same time the cover retains the simpler arrangement that essentially marries an evocative, slow arpeggio with Griffin’s heartbreaking vocal delivery: “I’ve just said goodbye/Based on a lie that I told to my sweet love”.
‘Tomorrow’ has a more percussive delivery on a tune that seems to dwell on the moment, casting off the cares of the world for mañana. Meanwhile, there’s a fairy tale ambience to ‘Another Story’ with its delicate melodic elements and cryptic lyrical journey (“This world is strange”).
Innerworld’s sleeve art carries over these themes of youth and innocence with a stylised version of Garrick and Griffin as children walking through a vista of blue skies and greenery. At the same time, the corner is peeled back to reveal a barely-glimpsed starscape of other hidden possibilities.
The album also has a few instrumental reveries (it has both an ‘Intro’ and ‘Outro’ track to bookmark the album) that lend proceedings a reflective moment.
The end result is a magical album that speaks with a unique voice and style. Through Innerworld, Electric Youth perhaps epitomise the diversity of electronic music and suggests that they’re a duo worth keeping an eye on.
Innerworld is out now on the Secretly Canadian label.
Publications that have featured his contributions include Electronic Sound, Metro, Japan Update Weekly, J-Pop Go, Wavegirl and OMD Messages.