The Young Knives – Ornaments From The Silver Arcade
“…So it goes without saying that it’s with a sense of nostalgia, and underlying apprehension, that I delve back into the world of The Young Knives…”
I was a fan of the Young Knives… Some time ago… And I use the term ‘was’ not as an insult, but as pure matter of fact. I fell out of listening to them around the same time as I fell out of listening to The Kaiser Chiefs and The Futureheads. In fact, I fell out of listening to any band with a heavy British accent around the same time and genuinely never looked back.
So it goes without saying that it’s with a sense of nostalgia, and underlying apprehension, that I delve back into the world of The Young Knives at the time of the release of their third studio album, Ornaments From The Silver Arcade. Let’s see how much they’ve come on.
Their accents haven’t changed anyway, not that I expected them to. It’s apparent from the album opener and lead-off single, Love My Name, that in terms of vocal style, they haven’t changed a bit. What has changed however is the tightness of the instrumentation. An up-tempo track, Love My Name is tightly knit around the band’s standard three-piece structure but a serious effort has been made to keep things tight.
That seems to be the way many of the Indie bands have matured, the core of their sound gets more synced and frenzied, while complimenting instruments are improved upon. On this track for example, synths drip and move about behind the guitar, bass and drums, but not in an overpowering way. The band are still sticking to the brash vocals that got them where they are in the chorus of the opener, “I love my name. I love my name”.
The second track on the album, Woman, shows the growth of other instrumentation. There’s an almost Stop Making Sense era Talking Heads feel from this song, with the assorted African percussion, female backing singers and ‘parps’ of brass. The “look at your reflection” section of the song stands out, but I found the lyrics a bit jarring in the stabby bridge so it gets a bit of a mixed reception. It’s clear that The Young Knives are pushing their own boundaries in places, but the core of their sound is coming across as being a bit dated.
The tracks Human Again, Running from a Standing Start, and Vision of Rags, all move to further the fact that The Young Knives have simply embellished their once sparse guitar-bass-drums sound with synths and orchestral instruments without giving the songs anything special or anything new. The only track where the band seem to stray from their comfort zone is on Go To Ground, giving more dominance to the synths and big chords, resulting in an anthemic sound and the most evocative song on the album.
On Ornaments From The Silver Arcade The Young Knives have begun maturing. The core sound that garnered them success is still there, and it’s still strong. But the limitations of a heavily accented Indie-band are many and often there isn’t much they can do to move past that. The Young Knives are starting down the road to a more unique sound, but I fear they may have set out too late.
Drop-d Rating: 6.5/10