If you’ve been keeping up with Montreal dream pop trioYoung Galaxy over the past few years, the first thing you’ll notice about the new album Shapeshifting is that it doesn’t sound anything like them. The rest of your listen will be devoted to deciding whether or not that’s a good thing.
Shapeshifting’s opener- The Angels Are Surely Weeping – serves as an assault of the unfamiliar; ushering in a punchy drum loop paired with a synth bassline. Even Stephen Ramsay’s vocals lack the watery presence of past recordings. Here his voice comes across as a sterile echo, a suitable companion to the cold electronic frameworks of the songs that dominate the album, but a change that is likely to off-put some of their shoegaze-minded listenership.
And although Young Galaxy undergo a massive stylistic makeover onShapeshifting, it isn’t necessarily a regressive one. For instance, Catherine McCandless’ vocal duties have never been stronger. On album standout We Have Everything, McCandless gives the performance of her career: a confident, operatic tour de force that makes the hypnotizing looping track a memorable one.
Unfortunately, such memorable moments are few and far between, andShapeshifting ultimately portrays Young Galaxy as sonically nomadic, searching for a niche as a little fish in a big pond.