Young Galaxy
Down Time

by Jim Di Gioia

April 4, 2018

Young Galaxy are speaking a more refined language of both personal and artistic truth.

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There’s a prescient lyric in “Stay For Real”, the single Young Galaxy released back in March of 2017, that hinted at the headspace they were in while working on Down Time. The idea that “The way that we speak / Is coming out differently” can’t be closer to the truth on their sixth record. Everything about Down Time seems written in a new language for Young Galaxy.

It’s not unusual for a band in its second decade together to find itself in a state of flux and undergoing change. But Young Galaxy have always had a restless yearning. There’s always been a hunger to their music, the sense that they were always chasing artistic truth and integrity, putting their heart and soul into every project, and never willing to settle for the easy road. Since releasing their last record (2015’s Falsework), Young Galaxy cut ties with their record label and cut their roster in half, leaving founding members (and life partners) Stephen Ramsay and Catherine McCandless as an independent, self-contained unit.

Closing ranks and pushing back against the corporate culture of the music industry has resulted in Young Galaxy’s most sharply defined album yet. Down Time sits in stark contrast to the electro-pop exercises of yore. Album opener “Under My Wing” is the antithesis of every hook-laden single Young Galaxy has ever released and serves as McCandless and Ramsay’s new M.O.: minimalist synths lace their tendrils through a gauzy and deeply intimate dialogue between lovers getting set to take on the world.

Lyrically, Down Time is Young Galaxy’s most pointed and poetic album yet, sprinkled with lines like “And no one’s helping us up / They don’t even know / What goes on below the shallow part,” (“Frontier”) and “Could you say that it’s down / When you know that it’s up / When your instinct tells you / That it’s never enough?” (“Glowworms”). Musically, the songs have never felt more elemental, building atmosphere and tone across slow-building, extended interludes, scattered with facets of Ramsay’s techno solo project, Drowzy.

Down Time is the most expansive and atmospheric Young Galaxy have ever sounded, which is ironic given that it’s also their most subdued and restrained record. It’s also the most complete and fully realized album in their catalogue. I’ve gone on record saying that, as a long-time admirer, there have been moments on previous records where it felt as if Young Galaxy weren’t fully invested in what they were doing. It’s that aforementioned restlessness and yearning, the sense that, as well-received as those records were, they didn’t fully represent Young Galaxy’s potential and vision. Left to their own devices and free from external pressures and expectations with Down Time, Young Galaxy are speaking a more refined language of both personal and artistic truth.

Jim Di Gioia

CoFounder at DOMINIONATED
Jim founded the music blog Quick Before It Melts in 2006 and was its principal writer until 2016, when its decade-long run ended 10 years to the day it started. DOMINIONATED is its spiritual successor. Jim currently serves as a Polaris Music Prize jurist and Prism Prize jurist.

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