Recently the post-rock genre has been booming in popularity. With slow buildups into carefully composed guitar riffs with bursts of drums that sound like an orchestra of gunfire; the attraction to such a genre is pretty understandable. Realistically speaking though, post-rock isn’t for everyone. You have to be willing to sit down and listen to incredibly long songs and wade your way through constant crescendos and atmospheric layering. Luckily, Gray Young is here to save the day. Having released two albums (Firmament and Staysail) they’ve already made a name for themselves, and are kind of like a ‘2% reduced fat’ version of the post-rock world. Their third album, Bonfire, follows the same formula; it’s packed with excellent yet to the point songs that will absolutely dazzle you.
Gray Young themselves are a simple enough combination of guitar, bass, and drums, but together they make magic. There are vocals, but they’re so limited, and so abstract, they often blend in and become an instrument to further enhance the experience. Bonfire is all about big sound and careful texturing. The very first track, “Canopy Reflected,” starts soft. For thirty seconds you’re drawn in by an ephemeral and ambient guitar, then the drumsticks hit, and it all hastens from there. Even the vocals kick in, and add a certain depth to the song that takes it from being a series of interesting guitar riffs, steady bass rhythm, and energetic drumming to a powerful soundscape built of pure music. The next song off Bonfire titled, “Firekit,” is even more lively, and maybe a bit euphoric sounding. This time around the band doesn’t waste anytime to ease the listener in, and instead gets right to business. At first, it’s a bit of a repetitive guitar riff, but the drums intensify, and then a new layer is added. An atmospheric guitar launches the song into a new melody, and then the song intensifies even more. It’s a musical marvel that doesn’t seem to end… until with just a blink of an eye it does, leaving a quiet air for the next track.
Gray Young has a ton of velocity in their music, but they’re not always going all out. They know when to cool their jets, and that’s important. The fourth track, “Quiet Gift,” is the perfect example of Gray Young’s musical wisdom. Everything gets a bit mellow compared to the album’s former auditory assault. You won’t hear a single drum beat in the entire song, and the quietly sung vocals mimic the listener’s own sigh of relief as they struggle to catch their breath. Better yet, instead of leaping back into the swing of things, Gray Young appropriately focuses on bringing the listener back into the world of rock. It won’t be until the sixth track when things begin to get a little wild again.
Everything is permissible, but not all things are beneficial. In other words: a band can do whatever it wants with it’s album, but that doesn’t mean it’s going to make it perfect or have some sort of revolutionary effect on the musical world. So far, it seems as though Gray Young hasn’t dared to try anything innovative, and that’s fine, they don’t have to. To be honest though, it’s starting to become problematic when each album they release sounds kind of the same. If Bonfire has one major weakness, it’s that it doesn’t seem like it breaks away from the band’s comfort zone. If you’re a new listener (or don’t mind a little repetition) this really won’t be too big of an issue, but it’s still a little disappointing to know that the band isn’t trying anything too excitedly new. Bonfire just isn’t as bold sounding as Gray Young’s first album was.
So not all things are perfect, but Gray Young’s Bonfire is pretty good. The band has somehow found a way to chip away at the fluff you normally get with Post-Rock and instead serve instant gratification on a silver platter. It’s pretty awesome. While there may be a little lack in the creativity department, the band still goes all out to make their listener happy. A ton can be said about Gray Young, and even more about their newest album, but if Bonfire had to be summed up in five words or less, it’d be as such: Holy shit, that was sick.
MP3: Gray Young “Firekit”