I don’t want to stray too long in an anecdote, but after seeing Hint Hint at the now defunct art gallery/record store The Muse, I couldn’t help but think how intense and infectious they were. Well, that and how eye-catching keyboardist Leona Marrs is. Actually, everyone in this Seattle five-piece are kinda lookers, but moving on…
Following the spontaneous energy of the Sex is Everything EP, Hint Hint’s full-length Young Days is more brooding and angsty than its punchy predecessor. Lyrically the songs read like the spiral notebook poetry of a cerebral kid who wears lots of black (which isn’t necessarily a bad thing). Jangly guitar assaults and pounding drums often give way to barren, introspective moments with a Roland keyboard.
Yet Young Days isn’t so much a departure but rather an exploration of the darker edges of Sex. There is something more tentative to several of the songs on the album, particularly in the moody title track whose restrained images of summer gates and better lives are blasted by the simultaneous crashes of drums, guitar and thumping bass.
The punch is still apparent in songs like the opener “Natural Collegiate.” Jason Lajeunesse’s thundering, rolling drums segue into sinister synth and Peter Quirk’s Peter Murphy/Brian Molko-esque vocals. Lajeunesse’s drums also introduce the dancey “A Curse on You, Dear,” where Quirk and Marrs initially share vocal duties expounding on broken love. “This is a relationship I won’t compromise / So let it die,” they sing in unison.
Quirk’s nasally, rattling delivery compliments the bounding refrain on “Same Skies”: “Long a waste, those brilliant shadows / Long awake, kissing your keyhole.” Similarly, Quirk’s voice during the pleadingly romantic bridge of “Long Branch, New Jersey” is spot on as he sings, “We cannot wait for / a clearing in this weather / We cannot sit hands entwined / confined together.”
Young Days‘ last two songs, “Before the Beyond” and “The Sky in Reverse,” slip into each other; the first a blistering, war-struck memento mori, the second like a drifting addendum that carries the album to its close on Marrs’ keyboard as Quirk rasps over swells of sound, “We lay hearts asunder upon the ground / We lay awake upon the clouds.”
Whether the weather finally got to them or, as guitarist Dean Hudson put it, they’re broadening on themes is hard to say (though the latter more probable). Regardless, Young Days‘ evocative gloom is palatable and, yes, infectious.
The Cure – Pornography
Placebo – Sleeping With Ghosts
Unwound – Leaves Turn Inside You