Vancouver BC’s New Material is not, as the name might imply, a full band. Despite this fact however the new five-song The Young Bloods EP sounds as though a full band recorded it. The one-man show behind New Material is the multi-talented multi-instrumentalist Rory O'Sullivan. The Young Bloods EP was recorded in O’Sullivan’s Vancouver apartment using a Fender Telecaster, Epiphone, Casino and a Rickenbacker Bass and then mastered professionally.
When asked to describe the album in his own words, O’Sullivan said that the concept behind the EP was to make “a collection of unapologetic pop tunes that wear their influences on their sleeves. Inspired by the lighter side of The Smiths, New Order and The Strokes, these songs are meant to sound like 3pm on a hot summer day.”
What is meant by the latter half of that quote is lost to me, though I can fully agree with the first half. That’s largely because on each of the five tracks on The Young Bloods EP, the influences of the aforementioned artists are freely exhibited. Whether it be through the instrumentation, the lyrics or the reverb-heavy vocal tracks, O’Sullivan is not shy about sharing his inspirations.
The EP’s eponymous opening track “Young Bloods” contains the lo-fi guitar and vocals that The Strokes used to such great effect in the early 2000’s and here some fourteen years later O’Sullivan summons that sound back though he tones down the pop sensibilities that The Strokes tended towards and the song is better served by this decision. The jangly guitar riff is just catchy enough and the light drums and keys hang in the background, and blend nicely.
“Blood Alley” is soft and swooping. Here O’Sullivan pairs his scratchy chorus vocals together with his well sung backing vocals of choir-like ah’s which ring out loud in the background. Again here the drums and bass are quiet, letting the tinny guitars lead the way through. This same guitar style is then paired with simple, drum machine sounding beat on “Chain Letter” on which O’Sullivan takes some time to show off his guitar solo skills, which lend to the tracks catchy dynamic.
To reiterate my earlier point, it is difficult to believe at times while listening to The Young Bloods EP that New Material is just one person. The album sounds fuller and brighter than many full bands. Though perhaps having total control over the instrumentation is what makes this album shine. Hopefully New Material releases some more new material soon.
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