Gray Young – Staysail

Starsail coverYou remember those teeny, tiny little reviews you tend to find in big glossy music mags and dense zines? The 50-or-so word reviews that are all that can be crammed into the space available: dozens of records covered per page. An entire record compressed into less than a square inch. I’ve never really gotten on with that. I’m not a concise person. But sometimes, concision’s a necessity.

Sometimes there’s just not much to say. Staysail, by Gray Young, is an album full of thick, moody and dreamy pop music. It’s very nice, very relaxing, the perfect sort of music to soothe you when you need soothing. Yep, you get all the best tautological nonsense here at NFI. You’re welcome!

First track, ‘Ten Years’, characterises the album’s dreamy take on alternative rock (or, if you prefer, the very very mellow end of post-punk). There’s an occasional faint edge of dischord between the bass and the high-pitched ambient noise that enriches the texture of the song. Coupled with earnest, delicate vocals, the net result is an intoxicatingly warm and soft tune.  The same is true of ‘Inside/Outside’, which from a similarly drawn-out intro builds to a simple guitar hook heavy on delay laid over a driving drum beat and bass riff: the song pushes forward with a gentle relentlessness.

At times the album strays almost too far into the territory of cheese, as with ‘Unbound’, a poster boy for the extra-sensitive love song. Fortunately it redeems itself by simply being a good song. There’s a fair amount of variation and inventiveness all round, in fact, as with ‘Cycles’ – a song that as the name suggestions is composed of interlacing small loops, licks and riffs, producing a whole full of subtle hooks.

There’s little more I have to add to this, save that I’ve not revealed all of the surprises Staysail has to offer. It’s a mature album from a mature band: enjoy the smooth seas they have to offer.

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