Young Man

Beyond Was All Around Me

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When student and dorm room songwriter Colin Caulfield began Young Man in 2009, he set up finite parameters for the project: the dreamy, densely arranged music he was crafting alone under the moniker and later with a band would span a trilogy of records and then the band would be put to rest. Beyond Was All Around Me is the final of three chapters; like its predecessors, it focuses on themes centralized around the tumultuous passage from youth into adulthood. Elements of this transition have been mirrored in the consecutive albums, as well, with the bedroom vibes of 2011's Ideas of Distance giving way to the more mature John McEntire production of Vol. 1, and now the crystalline take on Caulfield's layered sounds on this album, seen through the lens of producer Nicholas Verhnes. BWAAM holds on to some of the original inspirations for the project while branching into more adventurous territory in its twilight hours. Young Man grew out of Caulfield uploading covers of Deerhunter and Panda Bear songs onto his YouTube account, and the influence of those nostalgic, reverb-laden figures is still strong on tracks like "Scrape on the Knee" or "School." The haunted guitars and Motorik drums of "In a Sense" evoke the same empty, nocturnal suburban landscapes of Deerhunter's Cryptograms, with elements of darker ambient textures creeping in around all edges. Elsewhere, we hear nods to the spacy, resonant jamming of early Pink Floyd. Most curiously, however, are the brief interspersions of almost faux-Broadway campiness in "Being Alone" and "My Days." With brilliantly recorded string arrangements, parts of these epic songs land between the most Baroque Beatles or Nilsson tunes and reflective musical theater before segueing back into the rest of the album's more distant and exploratory tone. As BWAAM fades to a close, Young Man has succeeded in their goal to express the sound of what growing up feels like. The mess, mania, and static of youth get refined into a more confident confusion on these songs, and by the last strains of "My Days" (and the subsequent end of Young Man), we're left with the feeling of chapters closing and life moving on, whether its subjects are ready for what comes next or not.

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