The Mayfair Set is a duo comprising Blank Dogs mastermind and Captured Tracks label-head Mike Sniper and Dee Dee, whose group Dum Dum Girls was recently signed to Sub Pop. Young One comprises the group’s two extant releases — the Young One 12-inch and the debut 7-inch, both released earlier this year. Young One represents an apotheosis of coolness within the loosely related Brooklyn garage/pop-revival scene that includes artists like Vivian Girls and Crystal Stilts as well as like-minded West Coast operators such as The Fresh & Onlys. On paper, the group is ripe for dismissal: Dee Dee, the queen of left coast lo-fi jangle, teams with Sniper, Brooklyn’s premier sinister bedroom-pop pioneer for a couple of limited-edition releases that are quickly re-packaged and re-released for mass consumption.
Unfortunately for haters everywhere, Young One is a terse, highly listenable collection of pop singles that represents a best-case scenario combination of Sniper and Dee Dee’s respective approaches to songcraft. “Desert Fun,” the B-side of the debut single, plays to the Mayfair Set’s strengths: Dee Dee and Sniper trade vocal duties over a propulsive percussion and bass track and a jangly guitar line comes in to bolster the chorus. Rinse in a murky bath of reverb and echo; repeat. The song would be right at home on NME’s mythical C86 cassette release or an early single by The Wedding Present. “Dark House” takes a similar tact but plays up the chorus a bit more, resulting in a sound not unlike a Top 40 single from an alternate history of pop music.
The most impressive track is the atypical “Three For Me.” Anchored by an evocative vocal and a repetitive synth arc it is one of a few songs that has room to breathe, freed from the overbearing bass or jangly guitar that dominate the mix elsewhere. The result is a song with palpable atmosphere, unlike a few other tunes that rush by in a flurry of strong melody and washed-out production. “Cease To Be” is another slow song that channels the melodramatic brilliance of the Shangri-La’s into a dark modern pop ballad. When the Mayfair Set work their magic so effortlessly it’s easy to listen past the hype surrounding the duo and hear the group for what they are — two dedicated artists coming together and doing a very convincing job emulating the sound they love.