By The Young Veins
The five years spent fettling away in the Panic At The Disco engine room and churning away behind the pomp and eccentricity of Brendan Urie's 'emo boy with confidence' frontmanship did very little to appease Ryan Ross' then dangerously expanding quality of penmanship. With this latest venture into the wilds of Beach Boy's -esque rock and good hearted roll, Ross and his counterpart Jon Walker have sidestepped the swagger of their arena-filling, heart string-plucking, hormone-wielding previous outfit, with the eyeliner rejected and replaced with unmitigated maturity.
The hideous hype comedown which seemed to befall Panic At The Disco - post debut release, seemed to fall squarely on their shoulders and their shoulders alone, as the Fall Out Boy behemoth lumbered on to a whole mess of gold and platinum records and New Jersey's My Chemical Romance managed to roll back into their caskets for almost two years to work on a fourth record, without sacrificing the wealth of rabid fans they'd harboured through years on the road, years of playing Warped Tour and, well, a little multi million selling platinum rock opera called 'The Black Parade' may have helped conquered a few hearts and minds. Yet for Panic, the release of their second record 'Pretty. Odd' divided the populous scene of listeners and critics with its staunchly pro-Beatles pop and its apparent incentive to drive home their self proclaimed musical maturity and with that, a rejection of 2005's 'A Fever You Can't Sweat Out' and all its operatic attributes came with it.
The Young Veins are a decidedly refreshing mixture of early 60's surf pop, drawing on Brian Wilson of the Beach Boy's fame as primary song writing influence. As a unit they write songs drenched in twee melody, bowling over with delicacy and a certain musical authenticity, which in today's modern chart climate is the most precious resource. Simplicity is the template for this half an hour of garage rock and retro-groove, allowing an impassioned Ross to deliver track after track of affable hooks, completely blowing the lid off his best kept secret as a songwriter; that he's not in the game to write anything hollow, he's not a three chord maestro that all of a sudden fell into a international touring band, he's a Kinks fan, a Byrds fan, a Beatles fan who, by his own words, wants each of the 11 songs on 'Take A Vacation!' to be 'little stories that you can picture in your head.' With individual tracks having a 'different theme' or 'specific subject'.
'Take A Vacation!' rings in with the dreamy buoyancy of first single 'Change,' and Ross and Walker begin to woo away with their newly found Californian vibe, delivering the opening line of "well she was acting pretty, thought she owned the city, someone should have told her that pretty 'aint a job," riddling us further with such lyrical histrionics as "some people never change, they just stay the same way." All of which plays atop a coltish consolidation of tambourine jamming and airy Jon Walker backing vocals. Criticisms would come by way of smart-alecky dust collectors, eager to point out that the 'Veins new surfin' sound is far too aligned with Surfin' USA to be considered original by any means, thus missing the point exactly. While tracks like 'Cape Town' and 'The Other Girl' project a clear worship of 60's rock giants, and various other bluesy acts of the formative hippie years, they're doing it within a modern climate that shuns almost everything which fails to coincide with either 80's synth glorification or much rougher around the edges Indie rock and roll. Brave by any means.
The record scampers on briskly, with ninth track 'Defiance' oozing an almost Noel Gallagher written riff at its heart as it basks in its emotive chorus of "defiance, defiance." In the afterglow of a shimmering first half to the record, 'Lie To The Truth' maintains the pulse with the Ross' mournful lament of "we tried to be true, but you still loved him so I'll keep my distance and lie to the truth." Bestowing a degree of candour and maturity on the 23 year old singer / songwriter from Summerlin, Nevada. Closing out after 10 songs of jovial throwback melody is 'Heart Of Mine' a whole three minutes of rousing camp fire cheer, beautiful in its anguished guitar sound.
Needless to say the idea of reigniting the mid 60's sound once more and packaging it for the masses does sound appealing, appealing for its honesty, simplicity and hearty nature, not to mention what it would do for auto-tune dominated Top 40 & Billboard 100 charts, still smothering under the marshmallow pop and ever present faux-rap of today. The Young Veins have made a record, which, although not stellar for its original qualities, showcases an intensely keen writing partnership still so young and so keen, which will no doubt go on to make more fantastic records placing 'Take A Vacation!' as the benchmark by which their future efforts will be marked. A solidly compelling album, which will no doubt earn this LA band a fair deal of fans.