Monday, May 24, 2010
Pitchfork.com have reviewed The Depreciation Guild's sophomore album Spirit Youth, giving the record a score of 7.6 out of 10...
[pitchfork.com] Back when the Deprecation Guild self-released their 2007 debut, In Her Gentle Jaws, they were best known for spiking their shimmering morsels of dream-pop with pixelated Famicom flourishes, a distinctive yet potentially distracting gimmick that the then-duo seamlessly enfolded into their sound. One Pains of Being Pure at Heart later-- the Slumberland sensation that features Guild frontman Kurt Feldman on drums, and utilizes Guild guitarist Christoph Hochheim on tour-- and the band that was around before POBPAH even formed is now better known for their membership in that group. The surprising success of the Guild's day job isn't the only thing that's changed between then and now. For one, the Guild is now a trio, with Christoph's twin brother Anton joining on drums. Also, instead of going the self-production route (as they did with Jaws), the new album was recorded with Telefon Tel Aviv's Joshua Eustis. While these changes are the most apparent, they're not the only things that separate the Guild's debut and Spirit Youth.
It takes only a listen to the two released versions of Youth track "Dream About Me" to see what's different. The song was first released as a single in July 2009, a month before Kanine Records issued a remastered version of Jaws. That version of the song is in line with the sound of the Guild's debut. Right from the start of the track, the crunch and hiss of the 8-bit additions are put front and center, while the drum machine backing gives the track a stiff, brittle edge that undercuts its melodic ease. It's a wholly enjoyable pop tune, but the sound at times overwhelms the actual song. That's not the case with the version of the track available on Spirit Youth. Hochheim's less-exacting "real" drumming softens the song's blows, and Eustis (as he does throughout the album) ably integrates the one-up aspects of the tune-- they're not excised from the song, but the bloops and bleeps are focused on only for brief moments, and instead are interwoven into the background. Instead of being treated like the featured attraction, those sounds are just part of an ensemble that doles out its spotlight time wisely and sparingly.
That said, it's in the songwriting department where the true growth in Spirit Youth is realized. Feldman and friends still wear their hearts on their sleeves in that passive-aggressive emotive fashion, but they've found better ways to accessorize. They haven't done away with the polychromatic sheets of guitar strumming by any stretch; I'm partial to the Lush tones of "My Chariot", as well as the Sugar (as in Bob Mould) rush provided by "Through the Snow". It's just that these tried and true moves are attached to a stronger and more varied collection of songs that balance mid-tempo ballads (like epic album closer "White Moth") with three-minute pop thrills. By downplaying the elements that made the Depreciation Guild initially stand out from the crowd, Spirit Youth is a decidedly less distinctive album than their debut. However, by making that choice, they've made what turns out to be their best.
— David Raposa, May 24, 2010
Posted by Dan Goldin at 1:51 AM