It is rare that a band literally angers the listener by so clearly wasting their potential on a record, but sadly this is the case for Young Jesus on The Whole Thing Is Just There.
The band’s 2017 debut was fine. It mostly suffered from drawn-out songs and a lack of clear melodies but was a good launching pad. While Young Jesus have technically improved by a great deal since then, the flaws from their first album are, if anything, even more prominent here.
Technically speaking, the band members are very skilled, especially their rhythm section which provides insatiable grooves and tension building throughout the songs. Some of the tracks incorporate interesting math-rock ideas and at times even capture haunting atmospheric post-rock reminiscent of Slint. Young Jesus’ music is fairly unique in the modern emo genre, in their use of these elements as well as their lyrics, and the true passion that seems to bleed from these songs, even when flawed.
All this makes it so much worse that the record has such gaping flaws. The main problem is that often these songs have no discernable melody to build off: when a melody is present, in ‘Deterritory’ for example, it is just a repetitive and basic riff. It is frustrating to see a band who are so technically skilled miss this basic element of music. Furthermore, for as good and powerful as their instrumental breaks are, they are often painfully long and lead nowhere. The closing track ‘Gulf’ is an excruciating 20 minutes long, deserving maybe a quarter of its length. Oftentimes in these songs, it seems the guitarist is even playing out of time, seeming like it was recorded during a marathon jam session. Only one song on the entire record, ‘Bell’, successfully maintains both a clear melody and length.
Young Jesus is a band that clearly has a great deal of talent that they are squandering through basic musical failures. Hope remains they can come back and make a great album, but right now they just sound like passionate kids jamming in the garage.
Image: Karen Kallsten via Pexels