A mature indie-rock record that shines.
Label: ANTI- Records
Released: 19th May 2017
‘Life After Youth’ is a fitting title to Land of Talk’s return to recorded output after a half-decade hiatus. With the youthful exuberance – and certainly the jarring angularity – of 2006’s ‘Applause Cheer Boo Hiss’ a distant memory, ‘Life After Youth’ is a rounded and mature indie-rock record that shines thanks to its softer edges, biting insight and confident arrangements.
In fact, ‘Life After Youth’ follows on perfectly from ‘Cloak and Cipher’, Land of Talk’s 2010’s swan song that saw Elizabeth Powell collaborate with members of fellow Canadian indie-rockers Arcade Fire and Stars.
There’s a haunting, ethereal quality that runs throughout, elevating muted tracks like ‘What Was I Thinking?’, and ‘Spiritual Intimidation’ to a level of reverential beauty, where Powell’s soft vocals and melodramatic lyrics play second fiddle to some gorgeously clever arrangements.
While themes about getting older loom large – and certainly there’s an air of resignation and regret around songs like ‘Heartcore’ – ‘Life After Youth’ also possesses some insidious pop songs to offset the melancholy. ‘Loving’ (which features Sharon Van Etten) is a sumptuous and sublime song about moving on. “I’ve been meaning to forget you” considers Powell as she tries to shake off loneliness, all the while distracted by modern life. Elsewhere, ‘World Made’ sees Powell eager to make amends for her perceived failings, while ‘In Florida’ adds a touch of the whimsy, bringing a flash of colour to the palette of frosted greys – even if the lyrical sentiment is similarly heart-breaking.
And, just when things bottom out, Powell plays the classic switcheroo. ‘Life After Youth’ closes with the resilient ‘Macabre’, in which she states defiantly that you “Don’t know what you’re missing in me”. It’s the telling blow in a journey of Powell’s self-discovery and a spirited conclusion to a well-worn truth. Rob Mair