‘Young Astronaut’ originated in the suburbs of the New Forest as two members, brothers Chris and Pete Boakes, in 2007. For the next four years they remained a duo during which they experimented with writing a harmonious and considered blend of music – the foundation of Young Astronaut’s tonality. Part by part, melodic explorations, lyrics and acoustic ideas were refined and evolved until ten tracks formed the basis of an album. The addition of drummer Niko Battistini added a strong percussive presence. After spending a month in the studio ‘Fawn’, their full-length debut album is now complete.
The opening track ‘Hey Little Ghost’ has trembling keyboards and a wave of soothing chords that rush over you before the bric-a-brac verse ripples and grinds you into submission. Lush sentiments and warm pools of sound are gently washed with pastel colours of tender light. ‘Broken Teeth’ has a more southern and twangy feel to it. Pliant and rubberised. Steadily growing into a full-rounded sound. Harmonies are subtly re-textured by squeaky clean lines and nylon strings.
‘Dust’ is rocky. Groovy and itching. It makes me want to get up and dance. ‘Triumph’, however, is more introspective. Generously crafted guitars weave a subtle majesty and cradle a lovingly placed verse. The vocals from Chris are crisp and lush in equal measure.
‘Shadows’ is folksy, and has a bleak side to it. This conjures up memories of solitary walks deep in the forest. Long days of darkness … Sunday full of regret. Beautiful and deep tones from the guitars leave an empty void in your heart.
‘The Cloud Colector’ has eerie keys and a tremulous quality- like the vestige of autumn leaves hanging onto stark trees in earnest. Vocals blow gently across the scene, hardly rustling the percussion. This song leaves you perched on the edge of regret.
‘Harmony’ has an eccentricity to it that has been plucked from banjo country. Sad but solid. ‘The Artist & The Villain’ is sure-footed and lively. A sojourn through an artist’s life. The wind blows through the cracks in the woodwork, then the song opens up in a flurry of sounds and cracking percussion. Only then will the light of power and glory erupt.
‘Sugar is Sweeter Than Gold’ is a simple story, gently told. Chris’s sweet voice is majestic and unsettling, and centrally placed amongst the web and weave of plucked strings and sighs. This is particularly dark and handsome. The album is completed with ‘Death in the Foothills’ which is a soft cushion of luxurious textures and angelic vibrations.
An accomplished album that includes a mix of indie, acoustic and folk, from a talented new band. Go seek!
© Neil_Mach January 2012
Link to the ten track LP, mastered by Jon Astley (The Who, Bon Jovi & The Rolling Stones):