Seattle-based Youryoungbody debuts their new LP Devotion today, May 10. It’s their first major release since their 2016 EP Betrayer, and it has been well worth the wait for fans of the duo. Bandmates Killian Brom and Duh Cripe have created a sharp, polished gem that glitters in its own darkness, much like their past work. At the same time, Devotion is a slight departure for them, with a sound tinged by dance anthems from the 90s and 00s.
The debut track, “4ever,” was released as a single just a few weeks ago, and gave a hint at this danceable direction. Bouncy, sharp synths recall the optimistic PLUR vibe of many a rave anthem, Cripe’s voice croons through distortion: “Trapped in an emotional void / I can barely breathe.” The track sets a tone for Devotion, but not a pattern. What is sustained throughout Devotion is a tension between the seductive sounds and a more cutting message. This tension hits its first peak about halfway through the album with Track 4, “Intentions,” in which Duh confronts a former abuser:
Good, you’ve made it / You’re still a fucking rapist / And no I can’t / Accept your apology
The next four tracks glide smoothly into each other with hardly a break, to come to another frenetic, dance-happy resolution in the aptly titled “OD.” Brom’s choice of synths for this track were clearly a nod to an 00s megahit…but which? The name sat agonizingly on the tip of my brain over several weeks of listening before I reached out for a clue. By email, Cripe confirmed that Brom had been working from Benny Benassi’s “Satisfaction” for the sonic palette. (A titular twist, for a track named “OD.”) I can at least say that the melodies have moments reminiscent of Alice Deejay’s “Better Off Alone.” (Another fun, titular twist for an album named Devotion.)
Unlike those tunes designed for night-long dancing, Youryoungbody keeps their songs short-form, never overstaying their welcome or becoming repetitive. The entirety of Devotion‘s ten tracks clock in at just over 30 minutes, but they cover a lot of territory in that space. That said, some of them are begging for an extended remix. I fully expect one for Track 6, “Swordswallower,” before long. Meanwhile, the preceding track, “Rose,” is a personal favorite and complete contrast—a bittersweet ode to introversion. Cripe breathlessly sighs, “When he takes what he wants / Everyone knows” before belting out “All boys win forever / They dress up nice / They got good cars and wives,” concluding, “It’s easier to be alone in my world.”
If anyone ever had doubts about Cripe’s vocal range, those will be put to rest in Devotion. The sweet and listless crooning that characterizes tracks like “January” and “Smuther” from Betrayer is present here, but Cripe digs deep, too, channeling some serious Sioxsie Sioux, femdom force in tracks like “Casting” and “Swordswallower.” Lyrically, most tracks are brief and minimalist, providing a thematic foothold for the richly layered production by Brom.
The final track, “Liveleak,” is instrumental, allowing Brom to finish the arc of Devotion with a moody, smash-em-up blast of Industrial, Trance, Techno, and occasional jazzy pops. Regarding what has been inspiring his production lately, Brom says, “Witch house will always be a big influence on the atmospheres of the tracks, because that’s where we started from in this project. More recently, I’ve been digging harsher hardstyle tracks and groups like ic3peak.” That is quite evident in “Liveleak.”
Between that and the penultimate track, “i wish,” in which Cripe numbly admits, “I wish that I could let it out / Like you’re supposed to / So maybe then I could cry / Like you do,” Devotion’s final minutes brim with nostalgia and homage without ever getting too wistfully sentimental.
This week, in advance of the premiere, I went ahead and asked the duo by email about the origin story for their current sound. Brom cites the fusion of “goth and horror culture with music and themes that were popular” during his childhood. A musical omnivore, he was listening to Siouxsie and the Banshees, Bauhaus, and Marilyn Manson, along with Eiffel 65 and a Now That’s What I Call Music, Volume 5 CD.
For Cripe, it was Now That’s What I Call Music, Volume 6. In fact, she and Brom had some of their initial bonding as bandmates through the Now series. It was only natural to return to that period and those early influences for a debut LP release.
Cripe writes, “We really dug into our past for this musically and personally. I spent a lot of time sneaking out and going to raves. We wanted that energy to be felt in Devotion. The nervousness and excitement of a sweaty club when you’re sixteen and doing something you know you shouldn’t be doing. Devotion is also highly personal for me since I get a chance to confront my abuser through “Intentions” and process the slow death of a relationship. This album really came together through our devotion, and that’s probably where the album got its name.”
The Devotion Album Release Party is May 11, starting at 8pm, at the Belltown Yacht Club. Featuring performances by Youryoungbody, Zah (FKA Nightspace), Webdriver Torso and DJ Sharlese. Read more on the Facebook event page.
Devotion was co-produced with Javier Garavito of End of Saints. Album artwork and vinyl packaging design were created by Jordan Rundle. Mastering by Randy Merrill at Sterling Sound. Featured photo by R. B. Yates.