Casino Twilight Dogs by Youth Group

Casino Twilight Dogs by Youth Group

The Youth Group have been on quite a ride, two years ago they were total unknowns in the U.S., but in quick succession they inked an...

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Casino Twilight Dogs

The Youth Group have been on quite a ride, two years ago they were total unknowns in the U.S., but in quick succession they inked an American deal in late 2004, released Skeleton Jar, toured the States twice, and placed two of their songs -- "Shadowland" from Jar, and the specially recorded "Forever Young," on The O.C.. That latter number, a cover of an Alphaville hit, acts as a taster for Casino Twilight Dogs, the band's third (second in the U.S.) album, and their most accomplished yet. Youth Group underwent yet another lineup shift between this set and their last, but if anything, it's only made them stronger. Producer Wayne Connolly, who did an excellent job on Jar, outdoes himself here, creating an album that shimmers and shines, sparkles and glows. The Beach BoysPet Sounds was an obvious inspiration, and one the band borrowed too, especially for "On a String," but there's plenty of glamour and elegance shot through the set as well. On "Sorry" the guitars are positively iridescent, on "Dead Zoo" they glow, and on the surging "Under the Underpass" they shine and pulse, just a bit blurred to bring out the song's epic quality. They reverberate on "Daisy Chains," as Connolly and the band slowly swell the sound, until it finally bursts forth in full majesty. But for all their luminosity, Youth Group are capable of tougher stylings, as they prove on the more aggressive "Catch and Kill." In contrast, the haunting "Sicily" transmutes the sun-dappled Mediterranean into song. Of course, the glorious music is only half the band's appeal, of equal import are their emotive lyrics and Toby Martin's sweet, strong deliveries. The themes range from the sarcastic -- "Sorry" -- to the serious -- "The Destruction of Laurel Canyon" -- the latter written about the 2005 L.A. mud slides, and "TJ," a pensive number about the real life tragedy of a young boy who met his death while being chased by police. From the savage -- "Catch and Kill," to the savoir faire -- the ode to idleness "Start Today Tomorrow," Youth Group's poignant and thought-provoking lyrics and storytelling style have pushed the group into the emo bag, but with their incandescent music, they're far too glittering to be left with that label for long.