Saturday, 2 August 2008

Young Marble Giants, Colossal Youth reissue

Young Marble Giants, Colossal Youth (Reissue)

In the queasy morning light after the sordid all-nighter that was 1977, Young Marble Giants coolly fizzed into being, making a feather-light impact on popular music in the way that only the most innovative and unique bands do. Domino have wisely chosen to re-release the Cardiff band’s one and only album, Colossal Youth, complete with a bumper set of demos, singles and other miscellany from their brief existence.

Colossal Youth was way, way ahead of its time. Unlike other ‘classic’ albums of the period (Unknown Pleasures, Fear Of Music), it hasn’t aged a jot. It remains fresh, challenging and alien in a Mark Ronson-ified pop world, especially considering how laughably primitive the machines and synths they worked with were. Brothers Philip and Stuart Moxham create a brittle landscape of chopping guitars, neat basslines, creepy organ and invented noises for Alison Statton to do her nonchalant speak-sing thing over. It’s Statton’s voice in particular that creates the tense mood – sparse yet oppressive, minimal yet melodic. From the haunted house vibe of ‘The Taxi’ to the Redondo Beach-alike title track, Young Marble Giants created their own world of songs with their own rules, so different from the prevailing aesthetic of the time.

Bizarrely, Amazon is selling Colossal Youth in a bargain package with Nico’s The Marble Index. The records are actually a perfect pairing; unique, uncompromising and terrifying, and resolutely out of the mainstream after all this time. The remainder of the collection is a worthwhile insight into the beginnings of both post-punk and new wave, but does perhaps detract from the purity of the album alone. Thus, I can only award nine stars out of ten. Unless you get The Marble Index too, in which case I award twelve.


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