Younghusband Dissolver on LP
Younghusband first appeared in 2011 and this second LP has been a smoke stack on the road ahead since their 2013 debut Dromes. While that album defined a scene, this one sets them aside. Dissolver takes in a wide sweep of guitar music and focuses it into a precisely individual proposition; a sound unto itself that nonetheless garners comparisons with Elliott Smith, The Shoes, and Big Star. The quartet of Euan Hinshelwood, Joe Chilton, Adam Beach and Pete Baker emerged as one of a crop of so-called neo-psych bands. Under a canopy of reverb and phase, they could be heard hunting for escape routes from the played-out circus of British rock. No easy task in a country so cold, expensive and hostile to change, where bed-bound, infinite scrolls into the past are sometimes the only entertainment you can withstand or afford.
The band have struck well clear of the dying party and markedly expanded their horizons, assiduously refining their sound and pushing themselves beyond their previous work. They could have expected a struggle for orientation but instead circumvented the difficult second album cliché, producing something which feels utterly effortless. Each section of music rolls out of what came before in a shuttle of cause and effect, tension and release that tic-tacks back to the exhilarating opener "Waverley Street" and its invitation: "...the offer is open tonight." Hinshelwood's songs are subtler and more nuanced this time, yet their choruses have been scaled up. They're so discreetly prepared and precisely placed that they seem to come out of nowhere: lily pads hitting an exponential breeding curve, exploding from the crystalline surface of the verses.
This isn't to take away from their previous output, slathered in effects pedals, but growth in this case has relied on a significant slash and burn. It has lead them in exciting new directions. Warren Ellis, who heard them through the label grapevine when they signed to ATP, provided strings for "Heavy Expectations" and the album's self-titled closer. "Dissolver" arrives like eulogy fireworks at the death of the record with the Dirty 3/Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds warlord summoning a final shower of violins. It's the ideal cadence on the gorgeous, patiently sought out sounds that populate the LP.
Even as they're expertly made, these assured, authoritative songs reveal the band at a tender moment. Hinshelwood's heart was on something of a butchers hook the time - a situation as reliably constructive for music as it is bad news for the liver. He doesn't want to dwell on it and it's been expressed as well as it's going to be on standouts "Better Times" and "Blonde Bending" - or, for your insomnia album tracks playlist, "Broken Girls." Catharsis is achieved through lines of guitar, organs or words mined from a seam of classic power pop - "she lies awake every morning, wondering why she lives a lie/sometimes everything you want to be looks better in disguise."
Despite confirming the scope and ambition of the band, the album carries an inescapable vibe of the country it was made in. "Once around the park, enjoy the weather, don't call me after," Hinshelwood deadpans on "Heavy Expectations," before he's subsumed by an enormous dovetailing vocal harmony Rod Argent would be proud of. The John Lewis motto pops up in outstanding drug ballad "Misguided Light." Insights gained from a deep momentary downer have intersected with a period in which everyone under thirty wears zoo animal expressions; Dissolver woozily reflects a corner of the world that is devolving back to flat beer, slanted cricket pitches and vertical class. Through ten superbly written tunes that explore personal hopes, fears and betrayals it captures a sense of the wider situation's awful morbidity and the chance of its being transfigured tomorrow.