For the past few months, Seattle’s The Young Evils have been gearing up for the release of their EP, Foreign Spells, by playing a few shows here and there while tactically planning their next steps. Well, that time has come and with the help of producer Shane Stoneback (Cults, Hospitality), the band is ready to embark on the next steps of their musical journey.
Previously known as an indie folk outfit, the quintet took a step forward in these sessions, opting for a more alt-indie sound, while ditching the folkiness. What you get is a combination of Cults (not surprisingly) and Vampire Weekend. With Mackenzie Mercer and Troy Nelson creating dueling harmonies, the band does it’s best to compete with those lauded bands.
The EP, like many, is only four songs, but it shows promise of what this group can do as they mature in their songwriting. Nelson’s guitar sparkles throughout, especially on EP opener “Darker Blue Bayou.” Crunchy bass lines, catchy rhythms and the high/low vocals of Nelson and Mercer are standouts. This is the type of song you crank up in your car on a sunny summer afternoon on the way to the beach, which is atypical of the weather of their hometown.
“Dead Animals,” the band’s single, is an up-tempo number that showcases what the band can do with sharp songwriting. The song is short, clocking in less than three minutes, but gives a glimpse to what they can do with precise, crisp song writing. It’s action packed, with a heavy driving guitar and yep, you guessed, soothing, yet haunting vocal harmonies. If you combine elements of punk and indie rock, that’s what you get here.
Mercer and Nelson’s vocals are the ying and yang of the album. When one sings, the mood and vibe of a track change almost immediately. Why is this good you ask? It keeps you on edge, keeping you on edge not knowing what to expect and when. Of course, guitarist Cody Hurd and bassist Michael Lee have a lot to do with this as well. They’re steady presence allows for Mercer and Nelson to shine, and are just as important to the song as the frontman and frontwoman.
Hands down the best track is “Touch Tone Lovers.” Having heard this live, the song not only translates well, but of all the songs, it provides a glimpse into the future. If the Evils can keep conjuring up the lo-fi beauty that songs provides, then they’ll be onto something.
It takes some courage and a lot of balls for a band to change their sound midstream. But The Young Evils have done exactly that. EPs generally are a not so subtle look into a crystal ball, and if the Seattleites can build from this, then they have the chance to move onto bigger and grander things.