Album Review: The Underground Youth – Nostalgia’s Glass (Fuzz Club)

by | Jun 13, 2024 | Album Reviews, Blog

The eleventh studio album from The Underground Youth, Nostalgia’s Glass, invites listeners to peer through the prism of nostalgia, where the past scintillates with deceptive allure. In support of the album, The Underground Youth will take to the Control Club stage on Saturday, June 15.

Emerging from Manchester’s musical heritage, The Underground Youth’s journey has been marked by their blend of cinematic lo-fi psychedelia and romantically melancholic post-punk. Like Morally Barren (2009) and Delirium (2011), their early works set this tone with raw, lo-fi aesthetics that enthralled a burgeoning cult following.

Relocating to Berlin in the mid-2010s catalyzed a shift in their sound, integrating darker, more atmospheric elements as seen in What Kind of Dystopian Hellhole is This? (2017) and Montage Images of Lust & Fear (2019). Nostalgia’s Glass taps into this evolution, revisiting their definitive while offering fresh introspective musings.

The album’s prologue, Émilie, immediately parallels their early days with its haunting arpeggios reminiscent of Joy Division or Sisters of Mercy. Singer and creative lead Craig Dyer’s voice, a sepulchral whisper , beckons through the fog of history.

I Thought I Understood follows a vibrant dissection of human frailty in which melancholic musings are ensconced in post-punk vigor. Tracks like Finite As It Is and Another Country continue this trend. The former injects a burst of kinetic energy amidst the album’s contemplative depths with a noise-infused crescendo. The latter introduces a rock ‘n’ roll swagger reminiscent of distortion through the lens of The Jesus and Mary Chain.

Frame of Obsession weaves the expansive vistas of American pastoral into its darkness, creating a brooding meditation on fixation in the visceral interplay of sound and emotion. This thematic resonance is the beating heart of the band’s oeuvre, deeply influenced by the dark, art-film-infused visual identity prominently featured on 2015’s A Lo-fi Cinematic Landscape.

Interlude is a temporal bridge, a piano motif evoking an eerie sense of timelessness reminiscent of the liminal space of a crackling gramophone. This auditory pause segues into the title track, where an angelic guitar timbre cradles a poignant love story.

Said title track, Nostalgia’s Glass, ventures into the critical realm of nostalgia’s duplicitous nature. It is an elegy to the ephemeral, a poetic unraveling of the often destructive nature of clinging to the past: “Take a hit from nostalgia’s glass,” Dyer intones, “it’s dirty, and it’s cracked, and it’s leaking with all it’s amassed over time.”

The final track triad—The Allure of the Light, Omsk Lullaby, and Epilogue—delves deeper into the album’s thematic core. The Allure of the Light features a hypnotic bassline. It’s a haunted monochrome flashback filled with late-night obsessions, underscoring Dyer’s evocative vocals. Omsk Lullaby is a somber invocation, a dirge-like prayer suffused with desolate beauty reminiscent of early-career The Cure. Its repeated line, “All that fear,” exalts the album’s undercurrent of anxiety. Epilogue brings the journey to a close with an orchestral poignancy that lingers in the mind’s ear.

Nostalgia’s Glass interrogates the fallacy of idyllic recollections, be it political idealism, cultural icons, or toxic relationships. The album cements The Underground Youth as a band that has consistently pushed the boundaries of post-punk and neo-psychedelia. It’s a haunting, beautiful exploration of nostalgia’s cracked mirror, reflecting solace and sorrow.

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