Falsework has great work on it, but not a cohesive balance to carry on that power down the road.
It’s an unfortunate truth that some albums can be very, very good the first go ‘round but then fall flat with each subsequent listen. Young Galaxy’s latest effort, Falsework, on the first spin, is a wonderful deviation from life. You can get lost in the electropop dreamscapes and float through the entire experience with a smile and the thought that it may very well be one of the best records of the year. But, sadly, returning to it is quite a letdown. Call it an emotional high, call it a reverie draped in pink and silver clouds, call it what you need to, that state the first listen creates is a one-time deal. And it’s a real shame because that first time through is nothing short of sheer delight. But basing criticism solely on that first experience is wrong, and the answer to why Falsework can be so great then such a letdown is what needs to be chased down here.
Nothing much has changed in the Young Galaxy camp. They’re still crafting albums in much the same way they have since 2011’s Shapeshifting, and, on paper, that should be pretty great. In reality, however, it seems that the power and craftsmanship present in previous releases has been reduced to gossamer. It would be unfair to say that they’ve made copies of Shapeshifting since its release, because they haven’t. Sure, they’ve orbited the same sort of electronic vibe, but the mood is different, the sounds are different, the approach is different. Retreading previous success is not what Young Galaxy have done here. It seems they’re chasing that proverbial dragon with Falsework, much the same way listeners pine for the same experience the first time through creates.
There are some excellent songs on Falsework. The opening track, “Wear Out the Ground” is pure joy and bubblegum with its psrudo 8-bit opening and vocalist Catherine McCandless’ soft, dreamy voice. Once the beat sets in – a simple mid-tempo head-bobber with hand claps set over the snare drum – the song can sit solidly atop a Best Songs of 2015 list.
“Factory Flaws” is straight-up dance music. Funky, groovy and reminiscent of ‘80s pop gems. The song is fit for the finale of a teen drama film from 1986 and could act as a perfect way for the final still-frame shot to fade to black before the credits roll. As far as pop songs go, Young Galaxy succeeds in a huge way with this one.
Falsework’s final song, “Pressure,” is a fantastic finisher to a full body of work. It’s drama coated in layers of electronic sugar. It stands alone and is a tremendous denouement. And, as it closes the first listen through the album, it can’t be beaten.
Unfortunately, as excellent as some of the songs still are in retrospect, the album as a whole is unable to recreate the initial magic. Just as Young Galaxy attempts to recapture their previous successes, the listening experience itself will make you want to hunt down the emotional power the first listen holds. But to no avail on both accounts. Falsework has great work on it, but not a cohesive balance to carry on that power down the road. Young Galaxy are extremely talented, but they seem to feel the fatigue of maintaining the excellence of their sound. And that has translated to a lesser album. As a listener, the initial triumph wears off too quickly. Like waking from a lucid dream with hopes to fall back into it exactly where you left off, Falsework is never as good as it was the first time. And, soon enough, the dream itself will be all but forgotten, which is always a damn shame.