A favourite of ours for a couple of years now, Latvia’s Carnival Youth have released their sophomore in double-quick time. Following last summer’s ‘No Clouds Allowed’ and shows in pretty much every country and various major festival appearances, they have now released ‘Propeller’.
‘Connection Lost’ opens the record and in its first note, it feels like the band have never been away. Jangly and jaunty indie pop in the vein of Maximo Park, as t or the Wombats, as the song progresses it has fuzzy keyboards as the band sing about how ‘your message isn’t clear’ and how ‘you don’t tell me, you just disappear’. A song designed for pogoing; there are experimental moments in its closing minutes. This is followed by ‘Hunting for the Sun’, a louder song that has elements of Foals’ accessible style of math rock. There are scattergun riffs and a samba beat as Carnival Youth sing about how ‘With fake bullets and plastic suns, that’s how we begun hunting for the sun’.
‘Seagulls On Bicycles’ appears to be a close relation to first-album single ‘Words Like Birds’, and not just because of the ornithology theme. There’s a wry sense of humour not only running throughout the song (just imagine what a seagull would like sitting upon a bike), but also in the irresistible earworm of the melodies. The shoegazing ‘Fooling Myself’ has a more experimental tone that almost veers into post-rock territory. With feedback and loads of effects, it’s the sound of a band broadening their sound and hints at some great things to come if they want to drop the choruses in the future. ‘I Love Yous’ is a theatrical piece of pop that opens with Maccabees-esque guitars before delivering an idiosyncratic guitar solo and the heartfelt lines ‘I’m out of I love yous, what else can I do?’
Recent single ‘Surf’ has a celebratory, almost carnival-like feel in its intro and is very upbeat before it breaks down into more awry pop sensibilities. ‘Underneath the Water’ has the opening title being sung over and over again with dual vocals adding some extra depth. It’s been carefully put together and is hugely anthemic, but also has some delicious elements of prog running through. Considering how young the band still is, it seems appropriate that one of the highlights on the album is ‘Youth is Gold’, a song that captures the passion and pride you can hear in British Sea Power’s most straightforward songs. With prominent piano, the song finds Carnival Youth reminiscing about ‘watching the world go by’ and then providing an optimistic look towards the future: ‘I hope you’ll be there’; ‘even if I see silver in your hair’. The closing song ‘All the Time is Mine’ finds the band bringing back the spirit of Interpol but combining it with some understated electronica effects.
‘Propellor’ is a welcome return for Latvia’s finest, watch them soar!