Young And Heartless – ‘Stay Away’ Review

Posted: by Colin

With their debut album, Young and Heartless had released something that was confident in its mistakes. The Pull of Gravity’s songwriting was inconsistent, but the vision behind the record was impeccable. From the title and album art to the lyricism, raw instrumentation, and production – the band put forth something that was easy to interpret. The Pull of Gravity was sad, and the band knew it. Young and Heartless released was a realization of repressed memories; and it was excellent. 

With their sophomore release, Stay Away marks a band coming into its own. From front to back, it’s apparent that each song has sharp musicianship. The instrumentation is clean and in sync, as it must be – most of the album is filtered and restrained. Consequently, the dominant driving force throughout The Pull of Gravity, noisy and crude guitars, have been replaced with emphatic bass lines, loud vocals, and a kick drum that keeps the pace of virtually every song. 

Unfortunately, when the album strays from this formula it loses direction. Whereas The Pull of Gravity felt like vocalist Jeremy Henninger was rereading his journal or reliving all of his darkest memories, some songs on Stay Away feel forced. Specifically, the album’s quietest songs: “Misery on Misery,” “Fall,” “Heaven Nights,” and “The Blinds” are absent of the emotion that differentiated the band previously.    

And although a few songs do not register, it’s not to say that the album doesn’t have a litany of exceptional songs. Stay Away’s best tracks are its loudest and longest. “Fevers,” “Noisecreep,” and “Strange Lows” are songs that do not peak in the traditional sense, but maintain a constant speed and hook-laden chorus that is direct and therefore ends up sounding monumental. Likewise, “Nightwalking” is an instance where Young and Heartless is functioning on all cylinders. An inconspicuously charming drum pattern provides pretext to Henninger’s admission of guilt, “I know I said I’d fix you, I know I said I’d fix you, I did it wrong.” From there, the song pivots into lengthy verses and eventually an even longer chorus, blending ringing and churning guitars into one synergetic sound.  

To reiterate, Stay Away is an enjoyable listen. At times the album can be marginally bland, but other pieces do showcase the band’s realized potential. At its highest points, you can hear the band take influence from The Killers to Death Cab for Cutie or Brand New. These influences are acutely integrated, mixed, and meshed into their sound. However, at Stay Away’s lowest points, songs meander and seem lost. They yearn for ambitious experimentation or a spark in the form of a jarring scream from Henninger’s incredible voice. All in all, Stay Away is quite good, the vocal approach is clinical, the lyrics serve as a sequel to the band’s first full-length release, and the instrumentation is clearly tight, but the songwriting could be more ambitious and commanding on certain occasions. 

Side note: This band is amazing live. If they’re stopping in your city, be sure to go see them. 

Score: 7.5/10