Wednesday, December 1, 2010

#79 Young Marble Giants-Colossal Youth


Artist: Young Marble Giants
Album: Colossal Youth
Label: Rough Trade
Year: 1980

Colossal Youth, the only album ever released by Young Marble Giants, and 30 years later, remains one of the most unique sounding albums ever. The lyrics and music make it clear that this band had a disdain for being pigeon-holed, and it is that uniqueness which makes the album so great.
There are fewer albums which are as indescribable sound-wise as this. Hushed female vocals, an organ, light percussion (woodblock and shakers), and light bass and guitar litter the record. It creates a haunting tone. So much great music is made around the idea that with very little, walls of sound and symphonic sounds can be created (This Heat and Galaxie 500 certainly come to mind). Few bands embrace the stripped down possibilities that Young Marble Giants do on their album.
With so little going on, the melodies are ridiculously simple and come through with beautiful ease. The organ in "The Man Amplifier" that hangs on after the lyrics are sung has always resonated with me. "Constantly Changing", like other pop songs, starts with a long-intro whose main melody switches when the vocals kick in, but it's done with little fanfare-no large volume swells or cymbal crashes, but the feel of the song is noticeably different, which makes the way it transforms so unique.
And today, what sticks out the most to me is the lyrics: a cry for genuinity and a refutation of all things fake and shallow in the world. "The Man Amplifier" sarcastically attacks what makes a man a man. "Constantly Changing" and "Music For Evenings" take a swipe at a man who can't be comfortable as himself, with the frustration mixed messages can provide and anger at shallowness. "Credit In The Straight World" takes to task the hollow, modern society we must live in.
The album is brilliant, I'll say it again, for its simplicity. It speaks volumes and really does so with very little. I don't care that they re-formed and did the album in full at ATP: it's still shrouded in mystery and beauty in ways that seem impossible to dissect.

Young Marble Giants-Colossal Youth

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