Friday, 18 September 2015

Review: Saint Raymond - Young Blood

Top tracks: Fall at Your Feet, I Want You, Wild Heart
Songs to skip: Great Escape, Movie in my Mind

Saint Raymond has featured twice on the blog before; once back in May’sNow Playing/ Wishlist and secondly in my write-up of this year’s Dot to Dot Festival. On both occasions I mentioned how excited I was for his debut album, Young Blood, which was released at the end of June.

You might be wondering why it’s taken me so long to write this review, and honestly it’s because I still can’t quite make up my mind. I really like the album and I listen to it a fair bit, but I’ve kind of been waiting all this time to love it.

I think the main reason it didn’t live up to my excitement is because all of my favourite tracks on the album were songs that had already been released as EPs. I would have said that the rest of the tracks felt like they existed just to make up numbers, but seeing as it’s a 17 song album they definitely weren’t written as fillers.

Saint Raymond’s catchy indie pop songs are what attracted me to him in the first place, and the album certainly upholds this vibe and his signature repetitive melodies, both vocally and instrumentally. One downside of this is that the majority of the songs on the album do sound quite similar. He’s found a formula that works for him and stuck with it. And although this formula produces great songs, it means that even though individual songs have texture, the album as a whole feels a little one-dimensional.

The first track on the album sets up what is to come, launching straight into the anthem-like opening of Letting Go. I’ve read a few reviews that say the album sounds like it was written for festivals, and I know what they mean. But while these reviewers deliver this as a condescending remark, it’s actually one of the things I like about the album. So what if I like to listen to music that reminds me of standing in a muddy field, drinking warm cider and pretending I’m still eighteen?

There are a couple of more varied tracks on the album, although this mostly just means they’re of a slower tempo, such as As We Are Now and Carry Her Home. Carry Her Home begins really promisingly, but it doesn’t really go anywhere and never fulfils the potential with which it seems to start.

The album definitely reaches its peak in the middle, with Fall at Your Feet, I Want You and Wild Heart. I especially love the way that the guitar riffs and vocal melodies layer up and build momentum before breaking back down again in Fall at Your Feet.

I would have loved to hear Saint Raymond take more risks with this album and break away from his signature tracks. However, it’s definitely one of my go-to albums when I need some background music that I know will make me happy.  I think that kind of highlights the main difference between Saint Raymond’s recorded sound versus his live sound: his album sound is very much background music, whereas his live performance has so much more depth and an infectious energy that brings the songs and their meaning to life.

Have you heard any of Saint Raymond’s debut album? What are your favourite albums at the moment?


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