You’d have to be a pretty obsessive fan of Voices Of Animals And Men to want to wade into The Young Knives’ back catalogue. Even that debut full-length had a roughness about the recording quality that detracted substantially from the incredible song writing.
This re-release of the band’s debut mini-album, …Are Dead, with ‘Rollerskater’ tacked on, is even rougher, of course, to the extent that opener ‘Walking On The Autobahn’ sounds like it was recorded on a shitty four-track in someone’s bedroom. Often this translates into a persuasive charm, and …Are Dead …And Some can boast that achievement - around its serrated edges a sense of menace lurks; a menace that proper production would have smudged until unrecognisable. And the eccentricity in these older songs is more potent than in their more recent material; the feeling that it could all bubble over and turn violent at any minute keeps you locked in and on the look-out.
Henry squawks more, and the music careers off into darker punk recesses - the chorus of ‘The Night Of The Trees’ is like a voyage into a pitch black forest, haunted by ghouls; ‘Working Hands’ has an almost unlistenable vocal, gurning and growling over stabbing guitars that power towards white noise. Elsewhere, other influences stick out - influences that have since been blended more inconspicuously into the mix. The guitar licks on ‘John’ are pure Pavement; those on ‘Grand Opening’ hint at Cable.
In terms of seeing where The Young Knives have come from, this is an interesting listen, and there are some strong, visceral songs here. But let’s get this out of the way and focus on the more interesting task at hand: where are The Young Knives right now, and where are they heading next?
7Mike Haydock's Score