Gray Young

Staysail

Written by: DR on 25/07/2011 16:55:44

Gray Young, a trio from Raleigh, North Carolina, had promised great things with their fantastic debut album "Firmanent", and also managed to establish their unique post-rock sound for them to build on in the future. Having released that album as an unsigned band, they attracted the attention of label 307 Knox, who they subsequently signed to, and have released their sophomore album, "Staysail", through.

Far from being a sophomore slump - or even close, for that matter - Gray Young fail to really deliver on such promises with "Staysail". Edging further and further away from a term as vague as post-rock can be, and towards the star-gazing qualities of indie akin to likes of The Appleseed Cast, Sigur Ros and even The Temper Trap. It seems as though almost everything you need to know about this album can be learned from opener "Ten Years" - an effort that creates a lofty soundscape through delicate guitar-work, rhythmic drumming and Chas McKeown's airy vocals, which is then brought down to ground by the introduction of fuzzy guitar-tones. It's technically impressive, and the transition from the gentle to the full-on is as seamless as you'd expect it to be considering how well these guys have a grasp on their instruments, but the ending, or lack of, is an anti-climax after the clever build-up of minimalistic musicianship appears to be leading somewhere, yet ultimately ends up nowhere.

The following track "Inside/Outside" in particular expresses their apparent desire to experiment by superficially using noisy guitars, but they don't actually go anywhere of note or do anything to grab the attention of the listener. The same goes for a lot of the album; it's executed with an assurance that Gray Young know what they're doing, but it's largely too bland and same-y. There are acoustic/banjo efforts in "Unbound" and "Prescience" which see Gray Young change their sound considerably and for the better, where as "Picture (Meridian)" is a low-key, Balmorhea-esque demonstration in humming atmospheres and gentle claps; offering a change of scenery into something more colourful amidst the largely grey backdrop.

"Staysail" is too confident and poised to considered a poor album, yet too unrewarding and aimless to be considered a triumph; it makes for good background music, but that's not what Gray Young should be aiming for. With "Firmanent" Gray Young set the foundation for them to go and create something magical, but "Staysail" isn't it. Those promises haven't been broken - there is still a lot of talent on display here - but they do remain unfilled. At least for now.

7

Download: Unbound, Prescience, Picture (Meridian)
For The Fans of: The Appleseed Cast, Sigur Ros, The Temper Trap
Listen: Myspace

Release Date 05.04.2011
307 Knox

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