YOUNGHUSBAND EP (Culture Deluxe)

Myspace.  Thousands of utterly, utterly useless bands.  All with one ambition…  To ‘make it big’. 


If these poor sods actually realised how far from their aspiration they really were, I think that most of them would give up on the spot.


Oh, I don’t know, I’m sick of it.  It’s overload.  I think we should bring back National Service.  There are just too many colourless, bland, tuneless, competent, pointless ‘indie’ bands, contributing not one new melody to the celestial store.  At best, some of them could be broken down for spares and repairs in the great indie scrapyard.  Sifting through the wreckage of the mediocre, one might come across a nifty drummer, a guitarist with a spark, a sideman who hits high harmonies nicely.


Think of these BBC sitcoms, with their canned laughter.  The majority of them seem to be written by people who are capable of writing scripts, rather than people who are actually talented.  Is that harsh?  Am I a bad guy?  Well fuck it; myspace has made me feel this way. 


Younghusband is cut from an entirely different cloth.  Euan Hinshelwood is a talented songwriter, as opposed to a musician who is capable of writing songs.


I was fortunate enough to receive an email, via myspace, from Euan, who was turned onto The Nightjars by an American acquaintance.  Friend requests are often accompanied by horrible, disingenuous little generic notes, but Euan’s actually seemed personal, which encouraged me to give his stuff a listen.  20 minutes later (in this era of ‘you have 30 seconds… make it good’), I was still listening to his material, downloading a song and composing a reply to his message. 


Euan was consequently kind enough to send me the EP and I’m extremely glad he did, because it’s wonderful from the get-go.  ‘Mass Kiss’ opens it up with a chorus refrain that owes something to Grandaddy, before delivering a nicely turned lyric, which wrestles fresh relevance from that old chestnut – ‘and I woke up and found it was nothing but a dream’. 


Hinshelwood’s voice is very strong.  He has a very fluid, relaxed delivery and seems never to be stretching for a note.  In vocal company such as this, the listener feels comfortable.  The voice comes to you effortlessly.  Vocalists who don’t have this ability to connect are faced with an enormous barrier to surmount straight away.


There are many singers who simply sing and try to get away with it (I include myself in that).  Then there are other singers who open their mouths and people want in, straight away.  I don’t think you can learn it, or ape it, you simply have it or you don’t.  I say Euan Hinshelwood has it. 


The second track, ‘Mirror Man’, is my particular favourite.  Again, the easiest of easy tempo intros puts you in mind of one Younghusband’s influences, this time Blur (‘Coffee and TV’, it’s that three accents on the acoustic, then snare hit pattern.  Stereolab use it to great effect on ‘Margarine Rock’ from the Margarine Eclipse LP), before the chorus lifts the song away from the contemporary and off into its own space.  The electric guitar that subtly arrives mid song and burrs away thereafter puts me in mind of those woozily lovely Syd Barrett solo songs, only far more coherent and healthy.


‘French Grammar’ follows with a stylised intro, replete with reversed guitar and timpani.  Intros that seem to drop you into the middle of a song you’ve been enjoying for a long time (or maybe have always known, somehow) are high on my list of magical things that I like.  Then the piano comes in and the rest of the track melts away, allowing Hinshelwood to expose something that is unfashionable, or at least it seems to be.  A sympathy, or resonance, with ‘classic’ songwriting. 


People who run around with two haircuts, glowsticks, tazers, coke and whatever else will not like this music.  Good!  Fuck ‘em!


Track 4 – ‘Woody Allen’, a melodious paean to the bard of New York City.  Maybe the least essential of the four, but still with plenty of class.  A sweetly delivered refrain of ‘I thought I could get away’, then a smooth gearshift into the thoughtful chorus.  Nice and nicely done.  The guitar riff’s a bit gauche, but he’s only 20, for crissakes.  Forgiven. 


More please, Younghusband.