Young Culture – ‘Godspeed’

By Gem Rogers

Even in the context of the longest year in history, it feels like barely five minutes have passed since we first heard the debut album from Young Culture – in fact, it’s been nearly ten months, though in release terms that’s still a pretty swift turnaround for follow up EP ‘Godspeed’. Giving us just five new tracks on this outing, the Albany trio have elected to revisit the now-familiar sounds and emotions of their self-titled debut to top up our summer vibes.

Those emotions kick in almost immediately in title track and opener ‘Godspeed’, where wistful nostalgia takes centre stage; that idealised kind of nostalgia, full of bright sunshine and even brighter flowers, convertibles with the roof down, and the giddy excitement of young love. It doesn’t matter one bit whether you’ve actually experienced any of these things, the feeling is still there, transporting you to a place where real life worries are a world away. It’s this kind of pop that Young Culture are proving their excellence in, and even when it’s a little overly romanticised, there’s still an innocence and joy that feels like a warm blanket in which to wrap yourself.

While ‘Hum’ follows a similar formula (albeit with a thoroughly enjoyable Britney Spears reference and a hyper-anthemic chorus), ‘Shiver’ takes a pacier approach that injects some additional (and very welcome) life and energy into the EP. Latest single ‘simplemindedteens’, on the other hand, sees the band not only picking back up on the nostalgia, but leaning into it like their limbs have given out, with nods to their own earlier song ‘Hailey Beverly 2016’ and lyrics that gently reminisce about “flipping pages through a photo book” and “holding onto a dream”. Though draped in softness, it’s a track that still manages to remain infectiously upbeat, even if it doesn’t feel like it really goes anywhere with the energy it’s trying to generate.

The EP is brought to a close by the unexpectedly moving ‘Head High (Swim)’, a heartfelt track that encourages the listener to find hope, strength, and self-belief, and though not lyrically revolutionary, its message still hits home; given time and maturity, Young Culture are clearly a band with their own strength that can be crafted into something truly special. One of the greatest disappointments in the EP is also, unfortunately, found here – fading out on the final track rather than bring it to a decisive finish is a choice that’s less than both the song and EP deserve.

Although ‘Godspeed’ is thoroughly enjoyable as a standalone release, Young Culture would do well to reintroduce and further explore some of the more diverse sounds heard on their debut in future – there’s a sense from this EP that, pushed any further, this particular style will rapidly wear thin, and it would be a shame for a band with so much promise to pigeonhole themselves so early on. That said, for now, this is a release that existing fans of Young Culture will relish, and an excellent introduction for new listeners; packed with poppy hooks and summery nostalgia, ‘Godspeed’ is a warm hug of an EP that’s sure to find a place in the heart of any pop punk fan.

GEM ROGERS

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