ANBAD has always run the risk of veering into fan-club territory when it comes to Youthless, the purveyors of kaleidoscopic outlier-pop who I first met in 2010 and have championed like an enthusiastic schoolboy ever since.
Over the years, Youthless’ Sab and Alex kindly kept my appetite sated by emailing me a series of songs, rough mixes and EPs – most of which never seeming to make their way out of the (varied and exciting) Portuguese music scene.
I’m not sure if this mighty collection of Youthless aural bumph makes me a super-fan or mere nut job, but at times I did feel like I was the lone outpost of Youthless fever in the UK. So while This Glorious No Age is the band’s first official LP, it follows a fascinating and impressive body of work.
The album’s release (out now on CLUB.THE.MAMMOTH.) is worth celebrating for more than it simply being an official debut. The reason that Youthless’ star stalled just as the band was entering low-orbit is because singer Alex badly injured his back at exactly the wrong moment.
For a long, drab time, it looked like Youthless might never realise their ambition, but thankfully, with a combination of relentless touring and the release of This Glorious No Age, they have started to do just that.
This is a concept album (the songs are all based on famous musical duos) that’s carefully pulled apart in a neo-psych frenzy, and once you engage with it, it’s hard to pull your gaze away.
Songs like High Places make clear exactly what Youthless excel at: sweet pop melodies which – surely – are beamed in from outer space, then drenched in hallucinogens, before finally being fed through a meat grinder.
The single Attention, championed last year in this very parish, is still a smash. It’s essentially the pop song equivalent of the Shepard Tone: a sound that seemingly gets endlessly higher and higher and higher.
In Attention’s case, it’s the song’s sense of blissfulness that keeps building, starting at 100% wide-eyed joy and galloping upwards from there for its duration. (The video is brilliant – spend a moment to enjoy it, BTW.)
Actually, this ability to keep apparently tightening the screw might be Youthless’ secret weapon: Lightening Bolt, Mechanical Bride and the disorientating LP closer Lucky Dragons all hit the ground running and dash desperately for the horizon.
The album’s pace isn’t neck-breaking by any stretch, but instead leaves you feeling like a strong undercurrent is pulling you somewhere not quite of your choosing.
These dense and wild songs are made by just two individuals – which is not only a feat in itself (Alex sings and plays both the drums and keyboard simultaneously, whilst Sab sings, plays bass and furiously taps a maze of effects pedals), but it also explains the weird tension between utter lawlessness and laser-like focus in Youthless’ music.
This Glorious No Age is much more than the sum of its parts: it’s the sound of a glorious, colourful release arriving after many years of unwelcome frustration.
The songs are unavoidable and relentless. I’m hoping that now, the band are as well. Awesome.