It’s getting dark as you brush the sleep out of your eyes, heading out across the parking lot of this, the last hotel North for sixteen kilometres. Making for that same old car - that one, road-battered and weather-worn - which remains loyal and worthy even at the dead edge of this faltering town. The door slams shut and soon she’s riding that ‘Hot Horse’ along roads cast pitch black with desertion; which, save for the interest thrown by the headlights of a few other determined souls, will have to wait for the morning sun to show off scars won from this clattering machine. The air outside is growing colder and the road is sick with oil and the taste of dead rubber.
‘Five Sunsets In Four Days’, the new six-track EP from Americans Katie Eastburn and Jarrett Silberman, makes me think of cars. I was going to wait ‘till I passed my test before writing this, but it was yesterday and I failed… you see more from the passenger seat anyway. Young People (reduced to two after founding member Jeffrey Rosenborg left to return to his studies) specialise in the kind of dark moodiness which warranted those adjectives before they began to be hurled carelessly at any band with a vision-restricting fringe and/or Joy Division fetish. This sullen noise steals its pulse from everything you imagine the big, dark American night to be to any one, lone traveller – puzzling, awe-inspiring, menacing and yet somehow familiar.
Influenced by such things as time-worn ragtime, Native-American poetry, old showtunes and Gun Club, ‘Five Sunsets…’ only ever skirts round the edges of something which is immediately comparable today – a more respectable, god-fearing Yeah Yeah Yeahs perhaps, or a 30’s born step-sister to the post-war brat that is the Raveonettes. With Eastburn and Silberman living on opposite sides of the continent, it almost sounds like the demo tapes that they shuttle constantly from coast to coast have picked up some sort of wise-to-the-road self-assurance on their travels; a faith in their own substance and quality.
The subtlety and restraint shown here – barely a note is wasted, or a word misplaced – make it all the more impressive that the end result is not an efficiently economic exercise in predictability but an entity that is both well-rounded, yet desperately jagged; musically sparing, but still shaded with intrigue. It is imbued with a basic, timeless quality – the primal separation of high register guitar slicing down through rumbling bursts of bass, as heard on ‘Night Nurse’, or the unruliness of Katie’s voice teasing drums that stick manfully to their task, (‘The Mountain’). It is the sound of falling apart and then picking yourself back up, of stripping away the crap and driving flat-out, straight at the heart of the matter. Holding that much conflict, it is only natural that there will be lulls; the comedown of ‘Stay Awake’ for example, is a song that seems to be set down purely to anchor the other five tracks. But people will always prefer the highs, and without the lows there’d be nothing to make them dizzy…something to bear in mind when listening to Young People play their ‘Wild Boys Of The Road’.