By: Evan Townsend
British collaborative Younger Brother is known for two things: boundary-pushing psychedelic downtempo and brilliantly massive live spectacles. Following a widely successful US tour, artists Simon Posford (Hallucinogen, Shpongle) & Benji Vaughan (Prometheus) ventured in an audacious effort to capture the essence of both these specialties in nine, short tracks. Vaccine is the result.
Younger Brother’s third album from Twisted Record weans fans off the purely synthetic sound that earned them a position as one of the best artists in the UK underground electronic scene. The accruement of increasingly more live talent has ushered the band into a more mature, expansive era, perhaps not at as mind-bending as their origins, but certainly more poignant.
With the full-time recruitment of vocalist Ru Campbell (guest contributor to Younger Brother’s second full-length studio album, Last Days of Gravity), and help from live contributors Marc Brownstein (The Disco Biscuits), Tom Hamilton (Brothers Past), and über-drummer Joe Russo, the band graduates from a sound that lends itself to indie dancefloor renown into one worthy of airplay. For Younger Brother, lyrics have always been the exception. But on Vaccine, Campbell effortlessly eases into the spotlight, playing off and adding to the reputation the band has earned for itself.
“Shine,” featuring Campbell’s vocals, is an achy crescendo from whisper to croon. This warm but steely number is easily one of the strongest off the album.
In an odd but fitting coupling, unexpected guitar riffs lift the otherwise bleak and brooding “Train” through a dynamic strain, the most vibrant on the album.
Vaccine also sees the LP release of Younger Brother’s late 2010 single and sequential EP “Night Lead Me Astray,” a tortured lullaby with a decidedly post-Britpop edge. The song is accompanied on both albums by the dissonant anthem “Pound the Rhythm.”
Vaccine ends with a quick throwback— a two-track dip into the surreal world of the old Younger Brother. Campbell sits backseat while Posford and Vaughan take reigns through “Sys 700” and “Tetris.”
The Younger Brother sound has always been an exploration, an experiment. Vaccine is a bold jump into a new direction, but they seem to have landed in a spot that fits them comfortably, perhaps one where they will settle for a while. Though a much different style than the early niche of fans may have come to expect, Younger Brother has opened their sound for radical growth and a whole new set of listeners.
Night Lead Me Astray
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