When Young People's Katie Eastburn sings this line, over the ebb and flow of guitar that sounds like the creaking hull of an abandoned ship, you believe she'll be there at the pier, waiting for you. Her voice, a warm alto, rings out with clarity and a determined innocence that most people lose with age and cynicism.
Because of this, Eastburn (also a talented modern dancer in L.A.'s Janet Pants Dans Theeatre), has got the down-to-earth, front-porch-and-lemonade appeal of Cat Power--only, refreshingly, you don't get the feeling that she's about to blow her brains out. It's more like she's looked her fate in the face, and she's chosen to carry on despite it all.
In a way, Young People are the music lover's Steinbeck--artful, melancholy Americana (or avant-Appalachia, if that's not too pukey a category). With a stark realism in their lyrics, and an overall simplicity to their melodies, the Los Angeles trio paints pictures of hard times, sorrow, and survival by employing the beauty and faith of Southern hymnals and modern, precise instrumentation.
At their most stark, Young People sound like they are standing at the top of a canyon and playing the last song they will ever play, just before they die. But, by mixing Eastburn's sweet vocals and violin; the train-like reverb of guitarist Jeffrey Rosenberg (Pink & Brown); and the atmospheric drumming of Jarrett Silberman (ex-Uphill Gardeners/Get Hustle), their ultimate message is one of salvation, beauty, and simplicity.
On their first record (self-titled and joining Godzik Pink, Deerhoof, Hella, Outhud, and Get Hustle on the excellent label 5 Rue Christine), each song is a different, sweeping story. For instance, on the gorgeous "Collection," Eastburn sings, "Collection in a time of indecision/we can't harbor another orphan/I wish my mind would be sharper instead of duller!" Beneath it, a euphoric blast of distorted guitar and cymbal hits propel the sound of a woman wracked by dementia and overwhelming joy.
Live, however, is the best way to experience Young People--in part, because it's interesting seeing Rosenberg outside of his "Brown" costume and playing music with such pretty melodies, as opposed to the scary, twitchy punk of Pink & Brown. But, for the most part, it's because you get to see that the innocence present in their music isn't just bullshit; they come off as meek and sweet and really glad to be alive. And there's really nothing more charming than that.