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Yung: A Youthful Dream Review

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Yung: <i>A Youthful Dream</i> Review

Yung is a band that plays like they just met at a BP gas station and decided to hook up their Fenders on a whim. Yet, they somehow effortlessly turn garage rock into something that’s refreshingly well-orchestrated. It helps that they really know how to play, the vocals are in tune and the metal hinges on the creaking doors of their post-punk product unpredictability never quite pop off.

That takes some serious expertise, actually. Garage rock is a genre that can easily come off the rails, because it’s meant to sound off-the-cuff. You want to give the impression of being unhinged without actually needing the medication. Yet, there’s nothing quite so unappealing as bad garage rock, because you end up thinking the band should have never crawled up on stage.

Somehow, Yung sounds both lethargic and uptempo, frantic and half-asleep. “Uncombed Hair” might be their theme song; the look is pretty hard to pull off but can also put you on the cover of Vogue. Lead hair un-comber is Mikkel Holm Silkjær from, you guessed it, Denmark, a guy who assembled this current line-up—with Frederik Nybo Veile on drums and Tobias Guldborg Tarp on bass—after a couple of EPs and singles. Their debut comes off as lacking cohesion at first; then you realize it’s supposed to sound that way.

There’s a little-known band called Children 18:3 that excels at this same technique—oh, I’m just going to whip out this 15-second guitar solo mid song, possibly played behind my back in between puffs on a cigarette while the drums go hysterical and the bass player takes a nap. What you don’t know is that the band probably practiced the maneuver about 1,000 times to get it down perfectly and can probably repeat it with their eyes closed. Yung will add a momentary digression with horns (say, on “The Child”) as though they came up with the idea on a smoke break and grabbed the guy in the next recording studio over to do the part.

Another good example of their loose-but-tight-but-loose sound is “Commercial,” which could work as (ironically) a song in a commercial for an energy drink or maybe bed sheets. It’s a ticking time bomb with explosive guitar work, world-weary so-drunk-I’m-sober vocals, and drums that fly everywhere at once in a good way. It crashes, burns, crashes again, stops, then lifts off over the course of one or two verses. It’s amazing. You want to buy the glue that holds it together. Another fantastic song called “Pills” must be building toward something. Full-on hallucination? An actual chorus? Maybe it’s about the throat lozenges for the singer’s cold, who knows? You realize the song is never going to reach any musical consensus and is mostly a showcase for the fine guitar work, and you’re okay with that.

Yung requires some effort before you start hearing their mastery. The songs have to sink in a little, but during that process, you might feel like you want to bail. It reminds me of meeting someone at a truck stop who smells a little weird at first, wears glasses that were popular when you were in college, then you find out he’s a genius who has memorized entire passages of Dante and owns a multi-million dollar startup. Misjudge much? What appears on the surface to be a garage band is actually led by a post-punk savant. Yung is that band.

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