Other than the literal nightmare fuel of this EP’s artwork, there’s a lot that Youth Man have done right. Their breed of punk that would have fit right in during the genre’s inception has seen the trio garner a fair bit of acclaim, leading to their signing with Venn Records, former home to such soon-to-be household names as Moose Blood and Milk Teeth. Such pedigree undoubtedly projects a bright future for Youth Man, something only solidified by the strength of their new EP Wax.
On these five tracks, Youth Man’s idea of punk is one far removed from the barbed pop-rock which bears the name nowadays; this is the sort of wiry, unrefined stuff that would fit in the dingiest of basements and nowhere else. And while that previous statement is immediately disqualified thanks to the trio’s appearance at Reading & Leeds, it hasn’t changed them one iota. Just listen to the rangy violence of Pigs and try and argue that that’s the case.
But the real ace up Youth Man’s sleeve is frontwoman Kaila Whyte. A world away from the typical pop starlet in rock clothing, Whyte’s contributions offer even more angularity and weirdness to the trio’s already strange formula with an electricity and elasticity that grows throughout the likes of Fat Dead Elvis and the slightly-too-unhinged-for-its-own-good opener Sweet Apples. That weirdness really comes to the fore in closer Painted Blue, which swaps out neck-snapping acuteness for a more brooding post-punk style, bathing in a sinister aura thanks to its dramatic bass stabs and howling vocals. It’s the most arty moment on the EP, and one that definitely displays an expanded palette when compared to other bands of their ilk.
In truth though, there are very few bands around nowadays that are like Youth Man. With the current state of modern rock being beige and homogenous, Wax is the antidote to that – creepy, interesting and crucially organic. Make no mistake, Youth Man are still a work in progress, but with a widespread introduction like this EP, just think about the joys that the finished product could hold.
For fans of: The Germs, White Lung, Black Flag
Words by Luke Nuttall
‘Wax’ by Youth Man is released on 1st July on Venn Records.