While many of the indie rock followers will surely be all about The Depreciation Guild due to the main gig of its two core members, that being The Pains of Being Pure at Heart, that’s about the only similarity. Sure, the mood of the music, and a bit of the texturing due share a close proximity to their other band, Spirit Youth steps out of the shadows and into its own space.
Electronic beats open the album on “My Chariot,” which is just an indicator that Kurt and Christoph (PoBPA touring guitarist) have a map all their own to follow. Musically, it has a lot more of a bedroom aesthetic to the vocal quality than one would come to expect. It’s really reminiscent of the same sort of vocals you heard on many of the more pop friendly albums of the early 90s. It’s the same ground they’ll live in on “Crucify You,” and the dynamic doesn’t do much to distance itself.
But, in a sense, they mix it up on “Blue Lily” by opening up with a more prominent guitar piece. Then almost immediately they bring in the warmth by adding the vocal texture. Here you might see that often the vocals are a tool, never really stepping out from the instrumentation. But, the guitar definitely serves its purpose in the background of the song, and that might remind some of Republic-era New Order, though a heavier atmosphere hangs over these songs. This is the sort of place that it seems The Depreciation Guild hangs their hats.
Almost every song from here on out fuses a little bit of careful programming with guitars that ring out through the far off horizon of the song. At times, such as in “Trace,” those little parts really hang there, creating a dense electro-guitar collage of atmospherics, but without the vocals to brighten the moment, these songs really just seem to hang in air for the most part, almost like a pop-oriented fog. Don’t get me wrong, however, there are a few moments when the beats really do the song justice, like in “A Key Turns.” A calm mood established itself early, and every noise on the song, including the vocals, is accented by the beats (the most creative on the album thus far). It makes the perfect song for sitting outside as a storm drives itself into your town.
Oddly, there are a few heavy moments, or at least heavy in regards to the general sound of Spirit Youth. The albums title track and “Through the Snow” have the benefit of harder hitting guitar pieces. While the band manages to keep that quiet sensibility here, the chords of the guitar bring in a heavier punch, changing the overall quality of the tunes, and in fact, making them rising above the rest. It would have been nice to see those numbers placed randomly earlier on in the album, rather than slotted in near the end.
All in all, Spirit Youth is an enjoyable listen, albeit one that does tax the listener a bit. You’re caught in a world, unsure of whether or not you want to try and unravel the key to the lyrics (which are quite good) or just immerse yourself in the depth of sound that The Depreciation Guild have presented you with here. It’s not an easy choice, and that’s probably the biggest fault with the album: you have to make a choice on which instrument is the most important to follow, music or vocals. Still, stepping out of from The Pains of Being Pure at Heart is never a bad thing entirely, especially when you can craft generally heartfelt songs that will keep you glowing inside.[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/04/02-crucify-you.mp3]
Download: Depreciation Guild – Crucify You [MP3]