Reptile Youth

Rivers That Run For A Sea That Is Gone

Written by: TL on 29/07/2014 17:01:42

About a year ago or so, Reptile Youth was mentioned to me in passing as a hip underground phenomenom of the time, but since I'm unused to the "hip underground" of Denmark kicking up any more legitimate hype than your garden variety NME article, I didn't make too much of it before finally deciding to catch up with the band when they appeared the most relevant thing on stage one afternoon at the recent NorthSide Festival. Needless to say for those in the know, Reptile Youth came, saw and conquered on the Festival's large main stage, turning a sunny afternoon into an elated mass of bouncing bodies, and having since taken a humility check and caught up with the band's two albums thus far - 2012's "Reptile Youth" and the recently released "Rivers That Run For A Sea That Is Gone" - I'm ready to report obediently and loyally for duty on the Copenhagen duo's bandwagon.

Now of course Danish electro rock is a thing and has been a thing since probably even before the likes of Veto, Spleen United and Turboweekend got their careers rolling, but while each of those have their merits, Reptile Youth struck me immediately - already in the live setting - as an act with its own uniquely worthwhile twist, making their bread and butter with irresistably danceable beats and riffs from both guitar and synth, yet consistently taking breaks to deliver psychedelic and more mid-paced, organic outings that add personality and prevent monotony. Existing fans will recall oddballs like "Morning Sun" and "A Flash In The Forest" mixing things up on the previous record, while "Dead End", "Heart Blood Beat" and particularly "Speeddance" provided the primary missiles for the dance floor destruction that has already earned the band a cult reputation as one frantic and unmissable live act.

The question for "Rivers That Run.." was simple then: Could Reptile Youth keep it up? Things start solidly enough with "Above", which showcases brooding Depeche Mode-ish keys, chiming Justice-like effects and "above" all (forgive my pun) singer Mads Damsgaard's soulful vocals, which chant melodiously, repetitively and spiritedly, sounding like a prophet ahead of his time, dealing with his estrangement from others and lamenting the mistakes made around him. His rising dynamics often lend progress to the otherwise insistent grooves, or to the repetive and infectious riffs like the one on second track "Colours". It is with the title track at mark three that things really get going though, with a badass signature riff on top of Tron-esque synth and tribal drums that make even a rock boy like me finally get the point of raving. The soundscape is superbly textured and the song is dynamic and restrained enough to keep you interested throughout without going overboard.

Similar tactics are used to inspire movement on later highlights like "Two Hearts" and "Diseased By Desire", the former again seizing you with a simple yet aggressive little main riff and swirling cow-bell drumming, and the latter ending the record in a properly droning cascade of electronic movements. Én route to them however, there are also songs like the gently and contagiously rollicking "Where You End I Begin", which strikes a warm, sentimental tone that is likely to summon a surprised smile when it arrives from within the band's usual darkness, or "We're All In Here", which unmistakeably invokes the 'Stones' "Sympathy For The Devil" with its laid back bass groove and "uh-uh uh-uuuh" refrains.

Admittedly, if you want to hold up "Reptile Youth" and "Rivers That Run.." next to each other for comparison, I do think the former wins out by virtue of better highlights, but in the context of this review that is beside the point, because on its own premises "Rivers.." is a worthy follow-up, enriching Reptile Youth's expression further beyond a width that already outranged any other Danish electro rock crew I know of, and truthfully many international ones as well. Damsgaard and multi-instrumentalist Esben Valløe hence deserve fully to rocket on towards recognition from other subcultures than merely shuffle-happy hipsters from the urban nightlife, having made not one, but now two full albums of eclecticism, immediacy and instant catchyness on levels rarely heard from musicians in often inferior Denmark.


Download: Rivers That Run For A Sea That Is Gone, Two Hearts, Diseased By Desire, Where You End I Begin
For The Fans Of: Veto, Justice, David Bowie, Depeche Mode, Duran Duran, Inner Party System

Release date 11.03.2014
Internet / A:larm

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