posted on December 16, 2010 18:00
A review of the album 'Teenage Elders' by Hipster Youth
Review Snapshot: Teenage Elders captures the chaos of a Castlevania soundtrack without ever considering the likely effect upon its audience. A bad Nintendo acid trip of an album, lost in the one-dimensional platforms that inspired its inception.
The Cluas Verdict? 3 out of 10
Full Review: In a business overrun with insipid intertextual references, artists should really exercise caution when they wander into the realms of retro. The advent of postmodernism opened up the floodgates of creative recycling, with the old and the new intermingling in an array of previously inconceivable combinations. At best, the trend presented the possibility of redefining the cultural relics of the past through novel hybrid forms. At worst, the market merely capitalised on the success of a few innovators, producing a litany of carbon copies in their wake.
Dublin-based artist Hipster Youth unfortunately finds himself in the latter category. His brand of Nintendo-esque electro follows in the footsteps of Crystal Castles but ultimately lacks the substance necessary to escape the confines of Castlevania. While the Atari samples became a defining characteristic of the CC sound, they transcended such a pernicious pigeon-hole by expanding their electronic horizons. In contrast, Hipster Youth’s debut Teenage Elders fails to clear the first level, lost in nostalgic waves of Mario-style synthesisers and poorly-produced backing tracks.
The collection suffers from a series of off-key vocal lines, ear-piercing drum machine loops and a compulsion to rely solely upon the video game theme without ever venturing into new territories. At times, songs introduce clever instrument combinations only to fall victim to fatalistic flaws. The chiming cadence of kettle drums that opens “Crying outside clubs” produces a memorable melody and initially felt like a turning point in an album struggling to find its way. Alas, the sonorous start is subsequently drowned out by a jagged and persistent beat mimicking the dissonance of a broken speaker. Lacking any conceivable progression, the track merely trawls through repetitious patterns and discordant vocals until its conclusion.
Other tracks display an unrefined talent lying dormant under a surface of inexperience. “Pop song for those with short attention spans” (listen to it below) features an intriguing medley of electronic samples that is sadly suppressed by the plastic snare beat and incomprehensible vocals. Similarly, “Super Fun Hipster Suicide Party” crafts a catchy and uplifting refrain in the opening bars but abandons any notion of developing the loop; content with recycling the twenty-second effort for the duration. Instrumental tracks such as “Little Lost Bear” and “I lost my corpse paint” merely replicate their source material, serving as nothing more than soundtracks to old Gameboy platformers.
Akin to the games that it emulates, Teenage Elders is irrevocably one-dimensional, consistently burying arresting arrangements beneath unimaginative 80s synths and banal beats. While each song contains at least one enamouring section, they ultimately fail to sustain the forward momentum necessary to warrant that all-important second spin. In retreating to the comfort zone of the Castlevania sound, the collection confines itself to the nostalgic sentimentalities of a transient trend in modern music, offering little else to its audience. In a genre of limitless possibilities, electro should be the soundtrack of the future and not a record of the past.
Hipster Youth - Pop song for those with short attention spans by lizpelly