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Music Review

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Artist: Young Knives
Label: Gadzook
RRP: £13.99
Release Date: 04 September 2020

Gadzook releases Barbarians, the first album in seven years from Indie Rock band Young Knives (the name of which comes from a literary misunderstanding of the term Young Knaves). The band originates from Leicestershire and consists of Henry Dartnall on vocals and guitar, and brother Thomas Dartnall (also known by his stage name House of Lords). This is the long-awaited follow-up to Sick Octave (2013). The new theme of Barbarians is taken from the John Gray book Straw Dogs, and in particular the sense that no matter how much we advance as a race, we don’t become any better humans. We remain barbaric...

We begin with 'Swarm', and at once it mixes Noise Rock, Psychedelia, Space Rock and Electronica. It’s very different, with drums and guitar closest to keeping the format together. There are sound effects throughout and vocals are purposely monosyllabic in tone. 'Society For Cutting Up Men' has an Industrial feel, and vocals like unto Post Punk and late 1970s Synthesiser music. The attempt here appears to be to create a multitude of original bizarre and outre Rock and Indie soundscapes. I love the bass synth sound of 'Jenny Haniver', and the off-beat drums. The vocals and overall sound is quite melancholic. A late transmitter noise incorporates radio signal sounds. 'Red Cherries' is rather manic and chaotic, but somewhat mystical, too. With counter slow vocals, the organised mess of this song romps away to other dimension. 'I Am Awake' has bottle chimes and strange Electronica accompanying a moderate pace and touches of Prog Rock.

'Holy Name ’68' is a short filler of distorted chanting voices. Title track 'Barbarians' has voices from a fight introduce a heavy Electronica piece. This one wouldn’t be out of place in a Camden night club. It has more of a traditional direction, but incorporates weird noises, nice guitar pieces, and sounds to keep it off-kilter. 'Sheep Tick' is shades of Gary Numan in style. However, there are many moments of madness and outright childish antics, before the central theme kicks in again. In these songs there is very little to get a hook on, which is sort of the point, I think. 'Only a God' has quite a long intro of distant guitar and plaintive vocals. Toneless, Punk-like vocals take over, with a backing like a train ride. This is probably the least interesting of the lot. The intro to 'What I Saw' sounds like a theme from a 1950s SF B-movie. This has elements of Trance about it, as well as tribal elements.

I was going to reward this release with a 9 for its sheer inventiveness, but the final two tracks rather let the side down. Nevertheless, it’s a hugely original sound incorporating a little of everything. This is not an album you can joyfully sing along to – the chaos and dark subject matter sees to that – but it remains extremely interesting and diverse.


Ty Power

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