Brian Eno once described his ambient work as being akin to furniture: The music was made to blend into the grain and fabric of the everyday, to merge with its surroundings like a thoroughly Feng Shui’d ottoman or fruit-bowl still life. Yet, in spite of itself, the music often transcended its purpose of simple atmosphere and achieved a level of wordless beauty.
The members of Young Galaxy have inverted this process. With their shoegazed dream-pop of a self-titled debut, they aim for high art and strike only the lazily pleasant ephemera of afterthought music. Most of the songs don’t just float off into the ether, they diffuse into it, dissolving into it at the same subatomic level as early Spaceman 3 demos or, most especially, Just for a Day-era Slowdive, so that the music, nice as it may be, just wafts and drifts around your eardrums rather than vibrating in them.
It’s the rockers that suffer the most here, the exception being the galloping, gauzy drone-pop of “Come and See.” Only on the simpler, slower songs, such as the shoegazer balladry and coiled, wraithlike ambience of “The Sun’s Coming Up and My Plane’s Going Down” or the shadowy, slow-burned Mojave 3-ish “Embers,” does the band lock into place and produces music that stands out from the silvery haze of self-conscious overproduction. Opener “Swing Your Heartache” serves as the definitive example of the Young Galaxy problem: It strives so hard for complexity, for big and important statements (featuring such junior high journal juvenilia as “Life’s not a rehearsal” and “The only way to learn you’re not afraid to die could very well involve risking your life”), that verse after top-heavy verse collapses on top of one another in a haze of smoggy production. It’s only at the chorus, when the song scales back, when the glut is stripped away, that the music is able to soar above the misty detritus of the failed verses, all with the simple lyric, “C’mon, babe.” There’s nothing wrong with complexity or intellectualism in rock, but until this Galaxy gets a little older, perhaps it should take a note from the less-is-more aesthetic of mid-period Eno and leave the rest to Radiohead.