Younger Brother’s third full length album, Vaccine, may come as a surprise to long-time fans. The group’s older material was more digital, glitched out, and abstract. This album is more based in analog instrumentation, hypnotic vocals, and structured pieces. Not to worry, though. Vaccine is full of the influences and eclectic approach that make Younger Brother what it is, while showcasing a confidence in their newly solidified sound.
The album was recorded with Younger Brother’s US band, a line up of seasoned musicians. On drums they’ve got Joe Russo of the Benevento/Russo duo; The Disco Biscuits’ Marc Brownstein shares his talents on bass guitar; fellow abstract electronica group Brothers Past shared guitarist Tom Hamilton with YB; and Ru Campbell, who also contributed on YB’s Last Days of Gravity album, has been recruited as the band’s full time vocalist.
The album starts off at a great pace, each song at a driven, foot-tapping tempo. From the first track, Crystalline, the depth in their sound is apparent and blended perfectly with the vocals. The second track, Shine, is reminiscent of Radiohead or The Police. Throughout the entire album, there are moments of nostalgia as the listener senses the diverse influences of the band coming through the music. Other influences the author noticed include Lemon Jelly, The Flaming Lips and the Smashing Pumpkins.
In Pound A Rhythm, sitar samples, toms, and bells give the some an eastern feel, while the big reverberated guitar sound brings it home. The huge sound of the screeching melodic guitar lines is powerful, and a key component of Simon Posford’s production.
It’s these sliding, echoing guitar chords, Russo’s incredible drumming, ambient samples, and Campbell’s haunting vocals that carry the listener seamlessly in and out of each song. Before you know it, the 9-track album is over and you are left craving more. Though the album is a little skimpy on tracks, they are almost all over 5 minutes long, with “Train” clocking in at 7:30.
The last two songs take listeners back toward their older material, with electronic sounds leading the way over ambient, spaced out vocals and echoing driving drums at a down tempo, especially “Tetris”.
While it’s not what most Younger Brother fans were expecting, “Vaccine” does not disappoint. Their new approach is inspired, true to their roots, and may be exactly what the group needs to reach the heights in the US that the band has reached in Europe.