Young is the full-length debut of Overcoats, the singing and songwriting duo of Hana Elion and JJ Mitchell. The most striking trait of their sound is the rich, lullaby-friendly timbres of both of their voices, which usually appear together, weaving in and out of unison and harmony. That's not their only attention-grabbing feature, though, as they surround those vocal harmonies with articulate arrangements that blend elements of glitchy indie electronica, pop, folk, and soul. The album was co-produced by the band, Nicolas Vernhes (Dirty Projectors, Daughter), and Autre Ne Veut, names that to some degree predict the refined, intense, and somewhat offbeat nature of its production, for those familiar with them. Young opens with the under-two-minute "Father," a slow build of vocal layers and cavernous effects over a drone that, together, almost operates as a canticle ("My father understands the demons I wrestle with in my daydream"). A yearning, somewhat mystical tone is maintained throughout the album, in spite of fluctuating arrangements and rhythms. "Smaller Than My Mother," for instance, has jazzy, scat-like vocal loops behind more lucid lead vocals. They're accompanied by pulsing bass, handclaps, and occasional bursts of synths and saxophone. Later, "Hold Me Close" is a soulful ballad with more straightforward piano tones and simple, syncopated drums (though not devoid of its own production touches). It's followed by the glitchier "The Fog," which has distorted backing vocals and warped, pitch-bending synths. The elegant "Little Memory" is less rhythmic, instead floating along echoing guitar chords. The arrangements are simultaneously colorful and, with a few more atmospheric exceptions, razor-sharp in a way that would seem to lend themselves to transposing for, say, a cappella groups or the cooler marching bands around, especially on a lively clap-along entry like "Leave the Light On." It's also a collection that makes it hard to pick singles, full of big, plushy beats, a seductive tone, and melodies that haunt.
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AllMusic Review by Marcy Donelson