Young Man – Beyond Was All Around Me
If music magazines are still around in 20 years time, then the latest release from Young Man will make an appearance in the ‘Buried Treasure’ or ‘Forgotten Nuggets’ section. Released in the US earlier this year, it’s not hard to see why it’s already dropped off the radar screen. There’s been no European release. The group announced they were breaking up just after the record came out. And, most of all, it’s an album that’s way ahead of its time. It’s the third in a series that charts singer Colin Caulfield’s development from childhood through adolescence to adulthood. If this was the work of a well established, middle-aged performer, it would be at the top of plenty of end-of-year, best-of lists. But it’s not. It’s a set of songs by a young man in a band called Young Man about a young man looking back on the younger part of his life. It’s so precocious, it’s almost inappropriate. It’s also totally wonderful. The songs are true pocket symphonies. The backbeat is usually unremarkable, 70s or 80s standard pop-song fare. But the tempos shift. The keys change. The strings soar. The guitars arpeggio. The keyboards weave in and out. The melodies shine. The result is a really mature work from a very young man. It goes without saying that Brian Wilson is a clear influence. And Grizzly Bear are playing in the next studio. But the most obvious homage is to Pink Floyd at the end of ‘In Time’. And the most shameless piece of melodic lifting is on ‘Being Alone’, which could have come straight from a 1970 Don McLean album. If there’s a flaw, then just perhaps the voice doesn’t quite have the strength to do justice to the music. And only rarely do the lyrics communicate that wistful sense of rose-tinted retrospection, though ‘Looking at Waterford, In those old cabinets, Is there something more?’ evokes a definite grandmotherly, sitting-room feel. Regretfully, Colin Caulfield has retired Young Man. With luck, he’ll have plenty of time on his hands to think about a new, forward-looking project.