Young Galaxy's 2013 album, Ultramarine, picks up on the mature, sophisticated pop sound the Canadian band developed for 2011's Shapeshifting. These are languid, gorgeously crafted tracks that find the band delving even deeper than on Shapeshifting into an atmospheric, slow-burn aesthetic that holds up on repeated listens. As with its predecessor, Ultramarine showcases lead singer Catherine McCandless' warm vocals framed in layers of chilly synthesizers. And while there is certainly an arch minimalism to many of the productions here, this archness is balanced out by a pulsing '80s dance club vibe. Tracks like the uplifting leadoff single "Pretty Boy" and the tribal dance club number "Fever" are endlessly melodic and catchy songs that stick with you long after they've ended. There is also a dichotomous quality to many of the songs on Ultramarine, with McCandless' earnest but somewhat enigmatic lyrics pulling you into the emotional heart of a song just as the smooth, fluorescent synthesizer arrangements hold you at a widescreen distance. This juxtaposition of poetic, yearning emotionality set against stark, arty musicality works to give Ultramarine a kind of postmodern resonance that reveals organic, human truths in even in the most electronic, synthetic artifice. On "Hard to Tell," McCandless sings "I'm an underwater engine, shadow in the shine/I don't need no distinction to make mine what is mine/Inhale the smoking trail, where lightning struck the sea/I don't need authenticity to make me more like me." Ultimately, whether McCandless is soaring over the icy electronic shimmer of tracks like "Fall for You" and "New Summer" or cooing in her husky croon on the synth disco number "Out the Gate Backwards," she makes Ultramarine a hypnotic, addictive listen.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by Matt Collar