“What do they say about the best laid plans?” After one listen to the The Youngest’s sophomore effort, See It Through, the band’s wary lyric proves an apt bellwether for their generation’s growing anxiety. If their Feral Road EP was a coming-of-age, this second act is a disarmingly insightful quarter-life-crisis. Thirteen unified tracks roar with sonic energy, colored by the crashing nerves of adulthood and cementing the group as one of the most alluring young bands from America’s heartland.
Frontman Andrew Taetz identifies this album’s inspiration as “half relationships and half society.” See It Through’s frenetic lyricism offers a reflection on both the current civil zeitgeist and modern youth’s reaction to it. Anchored by an enthralling sound scape courtesy of John Wood, Brendan Linnane and John Quinn, the tracks drift from upbeat Americana to wistful folk to guitar-driven blues without ever moving arms-distance from their pensive through line. Highlights include the riffs of lead single “Built to Last,” the brass bloom of opener “In Gulf,” and the anxious ballad “Make Me New.”
Produced by Brian Deck (Iron & Wine, Modest Mouse), this collection offers the textured mix often missing from introspective material. Deck’s work, much like his contribution to Josh Ritter’s Animal Years, pulls emotion to the forefront of each track. The album’s central vibe—its sweeping ornamentation and swirling keys—the band credits in part to their “secret weapon,” Wilco’s Pat Sansone, whose instrument production fills out each lush arrangement.
The group’s reflective bravado stems naturally from men who came together on a desolate ranch in La Grange, Texas with little more than “a car full of instruments and six month supply of beans.” The result of their isolation, the rustic 2014 debut Feral Road, launched a 35 stop American tour which included a sold-out show in Chicago’s Tonic Room and a Daytrotter session. Critics supported the EP, confirming “a fresh new band who knows how to blend the best of their musical influences” (Study Breaks) and lauding the track list “perfect for a drive in your car with the windows down” (The University News).
With a confident new album pressed, Taetz and his mates will launch a second American tour, poised to voice the cool tension boiling within today’s youth. Neither saccharine nor cynical, See It Through offers music for a generation hesitant about their country’s future, but prepared to accept the mantle. And much like the album’s lead single, this band seems built to last.