Youth album cover by Wild Cub

Wild Cub – Youth

Wild Cub
Mom + Pop

Keegan DeWitt is no stranger to both the music and film community, scoring soundtracks for several movies in the past two years (“Listen Up Phillip” and “Land Ho!” as the most recent). Is it really surprising that DeWitt would opt to make something not as atmospherically taxing as film score? Not really. But what I did not expect was to be an album so linear in approach.

Sure Youth is very accessible and momentary, but the album stretches itself with a predominant approach to the songs. Oh, there’s another polyrhythmic bar. There’s another similar song structure that I heard three songs ago.

With “Shapeless” I cannot get Phil Collins out of my mind even though the band does not sound like Collins. It’s the layout of the song and once you dissect it, the moody drum machine that is disconcordant to the rest of the music gives off the Collins vibe.

Wild Cub – Thunder Clatter Music Video

I must say, from the start, DeWitt’s words are the glowing moments of this album. His use of imagery and how he presents them makes him a masterwork among lyricists. Adding synths as accent pieces only strengthens the bonds here as in “Straight No Turns,” churning out ‘80s Top 40 feelings with indie pounce. If Wild Cub can say one thing, they know how to obscure the lines.

“Wishing Well” gives us a polished and dreamy perspective as much as Youth Lagoon and Sleepy Sun provides us with a gritty version. The sparkly guitars churn notes like glitter flickering through the airwaves.

“Drive” tries too hard to venture away with processed vocals, but the song only shows us that the band is better without tampering with studio trickery. In addition, DeWitt works best as himself and not aided by a chorus of musicians trying to build off of his somewhat low, nasely voice. It’s a song like “Streetlights” where we hear him at his most vulnerable only to blossom instantaneously with “Windows,” one of the high points of the album.

I’m not sure how I will feel about this album months and years down the road. From experience, beyond immediate radio play and the momentary gleam in the songs that are being pushed out there, it will be DeWitts’ film work that will stand the test of time. The good news about Youth is that there are a lot of songs (15 songs total) for you to explore with.

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