William Doyle, the English musician behind East India Youth, has cast himself as a reluctant pop star. Refining his convergence of soul-piercing lyricism and raw, underground dance-inspired instrumentals with help from The Quietus Phonographic Corporation (2013’s Hostel EP) and Stolen Recordings (2014’s Mercury Prize-nominated Total Strife Forever), Doyle’s new relationship with XL Recordings offers him the platform to measure his pop potential. Aided by the mixing talents of Graham Sutton (Jarvis Cocker, These New Puritans, British Sea Power), Doyle made sure his escalated Top 40 sensibilities didn’t transform his former experimental endeavors into a series of forgettable, Muse-inspired singles for the second East India Youth LP, Culture of Volume.
Doyle’s liberal use of the term “pop” comes from a deep appreciation for left-field electronic soundscapes. Just weeks removed from the 25th anniversary of Depeche Mode’s Violator, Culture of Volume is reminiscent of a time when well-funded labels were still up for challenging the masses and artists didn’t kowtow to the status quo. Although Doyle has expressed his desire for this release to be consumed in its entirety, from lead instrumental “The Juddering” to the enchanting harmonics of “Montage Resolution”, a natural order also guides contemporary radio rock fans into the dark embrace of subterranean techno.
The “pop” of Culture of Volume reaches maximum efficiency with “Turn Away” and “Carousel”. An early 2000s indie vibe saturates the charming shuffle of “Don’t Look Backwards” and the Radiohead-tinged “End Result”. The latter features Hannah Peel on strings and a phrase that embodies the process behind this release: “The end result is not what was in mind/ The end result is always hard to find.”
Elsewhere, the album’s triumvirate of club-centric tracks (the trance-tinged “Beaming White”, the Friendly Fires-esque “Hearts That Never”, and “Entirety”) are more difficult to digest. The inclusion of “Entirety” absolutely demolishes the polished throughline that populates the rest of the album; the track is wicked, balanced, and creates an unexpected character-building twist to an album that maintains a level of premeditated safety.
Given that 95 percent of Doyle’s writing process is admittedly spent “banging [his] head against a wall,” it’s natural to wonder what happens when he eludes that need for control. Intermittently tortured by a desire for mass stardom, he’s eager to tame the chaos that could carry him there.
Essential Tracks: “End Result”, “Turn Away”, and “Entirety”