Poor Young Things long awaited debut EP Let It Sleep was released through Bumstead Records last month.
My borderline obsessive love for their music is well documented – I think I’ve only missed one of their many many Toronto shows since my friend first invited me to see them play at the Horseshoe last February, so it should be no surprise that it tops my list of favorite EPs ever.
They have about 12 songs they regularly play at shows, so when I saw the track list for Let It Sleep I was excited to see their 6 best songs made the cut.
It opens with their newest song “The Low Road”, which, upon hearing the chorus “How long will we pay for this, we’re on the town making memories but we still got concrete stuck in our teeth.. one more step and I’m gone” immediately took me somewhere unexpected from my favorite Thunder Bay imports.
I’ll admit I listen to PYT because their songs make me incredibly happy. It’s not the kind of stuff I play to to get reflective or be taken to some other world. I love them so much because there is something joyous about their sound that makes me grateful to be experiencing whatever good things are currently happening in my life – but “The Low Road” proves they have the ability to seamlessly do both light and dark. Those darker themes reoccur throughout the EP, as each song seems strategically placed to take you up and down from those low places to the brighter ones I originally loved them for – seamlessly representing the roller coaster they’ve been on since moving to the city. I am speaking lyrically though, to be clear. Melodically they never fall into somber notes, so you will feel good every time you hear their songs.
“The Low Road” may be about a relationship on the rocks, but that line in the chorus highly connects to the driving theme behind Let It Sleep, which would appear to be that they have been through a lot together as a band over the past 5+ years and they won’t give up. I’d say getting signed to Bumstead and recording with Jon Drew after less than a year in the city probably signified the beginning of their hard work paying off, and they’ve definitely earned it.
The next track, “Blame It On The Good Times”, is my very biased favorite, and not just because songwriter Matt Fratpietro used “turn the record over” in the lyrics (which almost made me spit my drink across the table the first time I heard them play it last April during their Supermarket residency). This song is exactly what I mean when I say their music is joyful. I don’t think it is possible to listen to it and be anything but euphoric. My favorite memories of 2011 include every time I heard “Blame It On The Good Times” live in some little dive bar. It is that kind of song and the perfect choice for their first single.
Listen to that guitar line, goddamn, incredible.
“Hearts and Minds” comes next, swinging us away from the good times again to explore the less than fun parts of life. “I know you wanna be me, don’t aim so low, you’ll hurt yourself” is definitely the darkest lyric they’ve ever written – it’s also my favorite because of how much it stands out. I am immediately taken to so many situations I’ve witnessed/experienced when hearing that line. When I first heard it live I was shocked by it, as this was their first track that seemed to be heading in this new direction, but they pulled it off seamlessly. I was blown away. I should also note the fantastic job producer Jon Drew did with it, making it a rare track I think I actually prefer on the album to live, because of the gorgeous tape echo like distortion on a small section of the vocals.
“Reckless Young” is another favorite that I watched them literally develop and transform during their residency at Supermarket, so I’ve been fully in love with this one for a long time now. At its heart it is a live song meant for singing along and audience participation, so it’s hard to capture that unique unpolished sound I strongly associate with it, without employing a Phil Spector wall of sound recording process- but yet it still works. When I want to dance around and sing like a fool in my apartment, this is the song I put on. It’s also the perfect road song, as there is nothing better than screaming “these days are dangerous fun” to liven up a boring drive.
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‘The Americanist” is the slowest track on the EP, which means for a long time it was my favorite song, because Poor Young Things rarely write down-tempo tunes. I find this unfortunate because Matt’s voice has that Joe Cocker grit to it that was designed for slow burners. Few bands have frontmen good enough to sing at that level, and I wish they would take advantage of it more. (Their ultimate slow song “Heavy Sound,” recorded back when they called themselves Money Honey, is still my favorite thing they’ve ever recorded for this exact reason.)
The perfectly placed “Let It Sleep” finishes off the record on an upbeat note, taking any hesitation or doubts they’ve had or others have had in them and throwing it out the window. “Get that shit out of your head, watch the bodies hit the floor while you’re waiting around patiently” basically says it all. Poor Young Things may actually be poor – having to live together in a house up in no man’s land (North York) in order to afford to live in the GTA, they may have to eat Mr. Noodles more than any human ever should – but they will not quit, they are here to stay and are happy to wait for their turn while lesser bands fall apart at the seams.
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No, they are not going anywhere, except on tour with The Trews, another hard earned achievement.
Come back tomorrow to read Part 2, my interview with the band.
If you are in Toronto tomorrow night, there is only one place you should be, and that is at their release show at the Horseshoe Tavern. I will be there front and center, as I have been at their shows for the past twelve months, and I hope to see all of you there.