Accessible Complexity, Nuance, and Evolution.
In William Shakespeare’s poetry, his first 126 (out of 154) sonnets were addressed to a young man described as the “fair youth”. In the poems the youth represented everything that those of Shakespeare’s era valued in relation to appearance, life accomplishments, and courtly character. It may be coincidence, but Fair Youth is also the title of the fourth album from Leicester’s post/math rock instrumentalists Maybeshewill. As Shakespeare’s “fair youth” represented all that was valued in his generation Maybeshewill’s Fair Youth represents all that they value: accessibility, nuance, and evolution.
Bear with me.
The album title is representative of Maybeshewill’s change since their inception in 2008 with debut album Not For The Want of Trying and it’s 2009 follow up. Those albums were aggressive beasts. Rough like ents, they were brimming full of dissatisfaction with society as exemplified by a multitude of samples of incendiary left wing dialogue. Their anger and disillusion with post recession social ills was manifest in their at times violent music full of nuclear Deftones-esque riffs and exuberant crescendos.
Then, in 2011, I Was Here For A Moment, And Then I Was Gone was released. The roughness was sanded down and varnished. The album focused on more expansive, beautiful, and subtle routes. That development is even more apparent on album number four.
Throughout the record Maybeshewill resist the urge to resort to enormous chugging riffs in favour of finding new methods to reach the heights of old. Take lead single “In Amber”. The fuzzy guitar is mere accompaniment. The song is led my piano and a swelling string section. Instead of pounding the melody around your head and face it suggests its merits to the listener, encouraging multiple listens to uncover it’s relative subtlety.
Similarly, the title track boosts a pretty piano and hopeful horn section to prominence. The song never reaches the epic crescendos of it’s predecessors, but that is not it’s aim. Instead of evoking images of dystopian landscapes, this evokes sunlight and overall sounds hopeful and as such a more relaxed approach is required.
That’s not to say that Maybeshewill have lost their bite completely. In comparison to many bands they still harbour a hard hitting pace. “Sanctuary” comes across like the older brother of “I’m In Awe, Amadeus!” from Not For The Want Of Trying while “In The Blind” soars nearly out of sight before dropping away suddenly to leave a lone drumbeat draw the song to a close.
Having said this, the album is no giant leap forward. Instead it’s more like a rugby scrum ever so slowly and slightly pushing forward to the band’s goal. While a success on it’s own merits the album equally whets the appetites for what is coming next. I’ve a feeling we won’t be disappointed.