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They shall not grow Oldmovies…

Youthmovies is no more, sniff! A solemn (not!) obituary by music contributor Gareth David

Written by Gareth David

Youthmovies3Photograph courtesy of Youthmovies

For those of you familiar with Youthmovies, information pills I say this: Fiddlesticks! On the 29th of December, they declared their intention to split after a handful of farewell gigs. No planecrash. No overdose. Not even any musical differences. They just sound a bit busy, and too spread out across this green and pleasant land. They won’t be replacing anyone, they won’t be choosing a band member to do a Richie Manic so the rest of the band can go mega-famous, a “Best Of” seems unlikely, as does a 2 hour cinema release of rehearsal footage. It’s simply over.

YouthmoviesPhotograph courtesy of Youthmovies

For those of you not familiar with Youthmovies, I say this: Get familiar with Youthmovies. If asked to name five bands that have dominated my mp3 player in the last three years, I confess that two of them are Youthmovies’. That’s love. First up, though, a disclaimer. Youthmovies do have intellectually advanced lyrics. And they have a borderline-classical note sense. And any band found in possession of either is bound to get called pretentious by someone. But there is no way any of this is pretense. Pretense is a band that decides “ooh, let’s sing about, erm, black holes – they won’t expect that, it’ll make us sound well interesting”.

Youthmovies2Photograph courtesy of Youthmovies

Youthmovies’ Andrew Mears may be in the arty sophisticate camp for singing a two-pronged attack on bourgeois patriotism and William Blakes ludicrous hymn Jerusalem (205 years overdue), but he hasn’t just decided to sing about it to look cool. He means it. It’s something he really thinks and feels. Likewise, an affectionate farewell ditty to a polyp before its surgical removal is hardly as universal (or banal) as Sex on Fire, but why dumb down when you can sing your authentic complex self and guarantee you’re not falling into cliché. As for the clever music, pretension only happens when idiots shoehorn their songs into 13/8 and minor 9ths without knowing what they’re doing (see Yourcodenameis:Milo) or push orchestras around in Abbey Road without knowing what a French Horn is (the list is too long now). A Youthmovies track may have twelve distinct sections, and the third verse might be in a different rhythm, but when it finishes, you’ll have the feeling that it all belonged together. Nothing ever jars, which magically trumps even grand wizards like King Crimson. Whoosh.

Youthmovies4Youthmovies’ soundcheck, photograph courtesy of Adam Gnade
Anyway, it’s recipe-time (since that is the funnest way to review anything). We reverse-engineer the seriousness and beauty of Radiohead, the vigour and accomplishment of early Mystery Jets, the sensitivity of Satie, the fearlessness of Late Of The Pier, the purity of mid-period Tortoise, the occasionally-surfacing twisted-yet-hooky motifs of maybe Soundgarden (imagine I just mumbled that, breathily and nervously), the right hemisperes of iForward, Russia!, and the tendons of Mew and, inevitably, it’s all gone wrong. Let’s try something else…

Youthmovies5Youthmovies photograph courtesy of Adam Gnade

Remember when Foals were about to release their album, and NME made it look like it was going to be the album of the decade, and it would redefine the next twenty years at least, and possibly bring peace to Palestine? Well, the million-dollar production budget and the million-dollar propaganda machine were on the wrong album. Around that time, and with minimal fanfare, Youthmovies released Good Nature on Drowned In Sound Records, an album that actually was the secret Album Of 2008. Behold skilfully deployed teen pop-rock hooks in The Naughtiest Girl Is A monitor, the melancholic failure to caress or placate of Cannulae, the meandering thought-train of Surtsey, the protective cuddle of Archive It Everywhere, the lusciously twiddly-versus-parpy highs, lows and detours of If You’d Seen A Battlefield… Frankly, I really want them to do another one but they won’t.


Photograph courtesy of Gregory Nolan

Instead, we can follow a dozen solo-projects (closest to fruition is Jonquil) and hear Mears read his novel in an art gallery. And most importantly, keep relistening to the back catalogue for fractal levels of general truth and beauty, rendered with a depth we rarely hear in rockular bands. The bastards.


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3 Responses to “They shall not grow Oldmovies…”

  1. danny says:

    Pity about Youthmovies but there’s nothing worse than a band that overstays its welcome. They’ve released some good music, my favourite of which is the collaborative record they did with Adam Gnade, the E.P. “Honey Slides.” Fantastic. Best record of its year. If you haven’t heard the track “Five O’Clock in America” it’s lifechanging. It’s here:

    Goodbye, Youthmovies. I’m well chuffed to see what’s next

  2. hamish says:

    genuine and honest as a band – brilliant humans – youm are, and to me, always will be, one of the greatest british bands in the last 10 years.

    It’s a shame that geographical location has meant they’ve had to disband but those who’ve listened and loved them would surely be happier knowing they’ve gone on the strength of good nature – an absolute belter of an album. disagree with the ycni:m reference though – however they came from the sun was no ignoto.

    nice eulogy though – i live in hope for a couple of really decent support acts on the farewell shows – foals and gnade will do fine for me

  3. danny says:

    yes, i hear (from dis) that adam gnade is slated to play the whole tour which will be great as always

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