The Young Republic - 12 Tales From the Winter City (3 stars)

The Young Republic - 12 Tales From the Winter City

(End of the Road)


It’s a rare thing to have to turn the term ‘genre defying’ against a band, but in the case of Boston octet The Young Republic there’s little alternative. Although rich in melody, texture and skilled playing (all eight members are classically trained musicians), the band’s debut album comes from far too many different directions for its own good.

‘Girl in a Tree’ sounds like defunct urban folkies Hefner; ‘Girl From the Northern States’ lolls feyly à la Belle and Sebastian; ‘She Comes and Goes’ could be Arcade Fire on a rare upper. All stuffed into one record, it makes for a bit of a muddle.


1. Dylan27 Jan 2008, 1:32pm Report

What a poor example of a record review.

All reviewers and listeners are entitled to their own opinion, and mine will differ from that of the reviewer in the case of this record. However, some of the statements Malcolm Jack has made here simply don't stand up to the briefest scrutiny.

In terms of overall sound, musical approach, songwriting and production values, this album is one of the most balanced and cohesive I've heard for a long time. To state that it "...comes from far too many different directions for its own good." is simply daft. I heard nothing on this record to suggest "...a bit of a muddle."

All but one of the twelve songs here are built on a simple but solid, mostly acoustic, foundation of easily-strummed guitars, perky piano chords and four-to-the-floor rock drums. The songs are often then embellished with flourishes of woodwind, strings and brass, as you might expect from a group of classically-trained multi-instrumentalists who met at one of America's leading colleges of music.

Nevertheless, despite their extensive use, the orchestral flavours are never allowed to swamp the songs, and the melodies are given room to breathe and develop.

The songwriting itself relies on simple, classic pop formats. You won't find any bizarre time-signatures or unpredictable key changes here.

Mr. Jack's efforts to shoe-horn this album into a comfortable and convenient pigeon-hole by likening it to a handful of recent acoustic-pop poster-bands is simply tired and lazy. I can only presume this review was knocked off last thing on a Friday as the rest of The List editorial team were heading off to the pub.

Perhaps our reviewer was confused by the fact that this album harks back to a pre-Nirvana era when an album of twelve songs was allowed to include a variety of emotions, paces and moods. A time when - unlike today - bands had to be equally adept at fast and slow songs, happy and sad.

The review has omitted any reference to some of the clearest influences on The Young Republic; such as late-era Beatles, Gram Parsons, Talking Heads, The Band, early Springsteen etc. simply in order to try and associate it with modern trends.

My opinion is that this is a great record, one that I'm only growing more fond of with each listen. The musicianship, songwriting and arrangement are far more accomplished than anyone would expect of a band on their first commercial release. Yet the record is still a breath of fresh air through stale and stuffy musical envionment we have to endure nowadays.

Malcolm Jack's immature and dismissive review does not do justice to The Young Republic, he's got his facts wrong and allowed his preconceptions and prejudices to govern his objectivity. Please don't let it put you off, and give this band a listen.

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