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Young Man – Beyond Was All Around Me

on April 10, 2013, 12:01am

Plenty of today’s artists worship the surreal sound texturing of Bradford Cox (Deerhunter, Atlas Sound) and Panda Bear (Animal Collective), but few do it as religiously as Young Man’s Colin Caulfield.

Caulfield began his career performing YouTube covers of those artists’ work and his four-year old project, Young Man, is informed by those same sounds and all their accompanying philosophies. For example, the 2009 Atlas Sound track “Walkabout” is a single-verse song about growing up that Cox and Panda Bear co-wrote. It’s a lovely nugget of everything that’s made the pair so successful, but the simplicity of the wanderer is an idea Caulfield would later emulate, with quick, flawless melodies that evoke the intangible delights of childhood.

Caulfield isn’t a copycat. But you can tell he holds himself to the high standards of his heroes. Beyond Was All Around Me, the last album he’ll release as Young Man, is now his fourth release in as many years. “I’m lost in my world / Faded and drunk from thinking too long” was one of the final lyrics he left us with on Vol. 1’s excellent closer “Directions”, and it almost sounded as if all the relentless creation without looking back might be catching up to him. It may be time to put the old Young Man to rest.

Sure enough, Young Man’s brief arc sputters a bit as it draws to a close on Beyond. The music at times gets repetitive, but just as often reminds us why Caulfield has earned his mentions alongside his forebears. Where the oft-overlooked Vol. 1 and Ideas of Distance  ripped whole chapters from the wide-eyed wonder of Deerhunter’s Weird Era Cont., the new album marks a maturity for Young Man. Beyond is, perhaps, the best descriptor for this polished effort, which is Caulfield’s most original work to date.

Gigantic string sections play a main role for the first time, as if they are Young Man’s final frontier. From opener “It’s Alright”, on which he sighs his peace (“I’m alright / Just in too deep”), until the outstanding final three tracks, this album drives on. Rock arrangements oscillate between inward song and passionate sprawl. It’s not always clear why they’re there – see “Being Alone” for a good example of that occasional overkill – although it wouldn’t be a stretch to posit that Caulfield simply got to feeling bold on his way out. And whatever the next stage is, that can only help him on his way in.

Essential tracks: “It’s Alright”, “Waterford”, and “School”

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