Young Offender

Everyone Everywhere < Young Offender > Liar

There are some absolute gems on Republic, and Young Offender is one of them. It would have been one of the stronger contenders for single release (and remix), and its quality may have more-than-something to do with the fact that – as one of the earliest tracks* written for Republic during Factory’s dying days – Pascal Gabriel had a hand in its (pre)production as he did with Regret. I’ve got a lot of time for Gabriel; having produced some of my favourite songs by S’Express, Bomb The Bass, Inspiral Carpets, and of course The Other Two, and I often wonder how Republic might’ve been shaped had his involvement continued.

In my opinion Young Offender** features some of the best programming on Republic; particularly with respect to the dipping and weaving synth bassline, the rapid fire house piano sequence, and the cute pitch-bend on the brassy riff in the instrumental break. I also really like the production on Bernard’s verse vocals, which take on a call / response feel whereby the first stanza is singular and the second stanza takes on a vocal harmony, not unlike the approach Brian Eno is known for (a-la Talking Heads, John Cale, U2 and his own work). Bernard’s vocal performance is excellent, and the overall production really is top-notch. It sounds like the band is firing on all cylinders; with Hook’s contributions not completely lost in the mix (although I’d have mixed his performance a little higher to cut through), and – as with much of Republic – Young Offender is dense with layers of fine keyboard production by Gillian, Stephen and Bernard, but in this case because the drum programming doesn’t overpower in a ‘muddy middle’ the many synth melodies are given space to glisten.

So Young Offender is a veritable peach, but is it worthy of 5 stars? No, because there’s something about all of the Republic-era primarily-electronic songs that has them fall short in my estimation when compared with the likes of Fine Time, Vanishing Point, Bizarre Love Triangle, The Perfect Kiss, Blue Monday and Everything’s Gone Green that came before, and I think it’s this: for over 10 years New Order had been setting a standard by which all others were measured, but by the time of Republic their works (at least to my ears) were contrasted against a vast and exciting field of electronic music innovation – the children of Blue Monday*** – that had finally overtaken them (and indeed their choice of producers).

Republic sounds very polished, was a well-deserved #1 album, and contains some comfortably excellent New Order songs, but for the first time it didn’t astonish me and it would be a while before they managed to do so once again.

* I’m told that the contents of what may be the mythical FACT 300 demo tape included Young Offender (working title Identity), Regret, and Times Change (working title Heavy One). It’s likely that Pascal Gabriel worked on these three at the early demo stage.
** The conjecture (among those who worry about such things) around the Pet Shop Boys having a track called Young Offender on their Hague-produced Very album that same year is a (very small) storm in a (very small) teacup. IMHO it’s just an interesting coincidence – nothing to see here. They are both great tracks, and that’s all that matters.
*** But what of the children of the children of Blue Monday; i.e those producing electronic music now? Was the period of 1983-1998 the golden age of EDM; the degree of innovation of which is unlikely to be repeated? Is everything now just a mash-up of what came before or am I just being grumpy? Answers via feedback – what do you consider to have been remarkable and original in the last 10 years?

Rating: xxxxo

Available on: Republic

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10 thoughts on “Young Offender

  1. Great review again! Over the years my opinion of songs on Republic have fluctuated up and down, however Young Offender has always remained high. Pretty much always enjoyed listening to this – from the beats, keyboards, vocals styles, bass lines etc. Its bright and airy. Always enjoyed that keyboard breakdown near the end.

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    1. I agree. The added flourish of a bit more Hooky bass towards the end always reminded me how he seems to be missing from much of the album.

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  2. I think there’s probably SOME EDM recently that could be considered a bit remarkable and original, but who cares?

    The fact remains, they are the great grandchildren of Blue Monday. When I play BM for myself at high volumes, I cannot believe it has been 35 years since it’s creation. It was sound perfection. NOTHING has surpassed it. You can play it in the middle of current EDM and the ignorant 20 yr olds will think it’s current. And these same youngins would not be able to comprehend the meaning of ’35 years’. That would be too much thinking for them.

    IMHO

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  3. The last 10 years of EDM…2007 to 2017…I wish I could speak intelligently about that period, but I cannot. I don’t even know what EDM music is in nowadays — are kids still listening to Deadmau5? He’s like the only guy (rodent?) I know. 🙂

    For me, the high point of EDM is Orbital between the Green album until In Sides, which is 1991 to 1996.

    I remember getting Very around the same time as Republic, the one with the Lego-like cover. I preferred the PSB YO over NO’s! I still remember the chorus after all these years: “young offender…what’s your defense…you’re younger than me…obviously…”

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    1. Agree re: Orbital. Try listening their 2012 Wonky album – some amazing tracks incl. New France and Never.
      It’s a challenge finding genuinely new these days. There are great albums coming out incl. Leftfield’s ‘Alternative Light Source’, but again that’s coming from a group whose awesomeness was firmly established in that same ’90s period. Same with Goldfrapp. Same with Gus Gus. Chvrches make great tunes – they’re a possible exception. The Knife definitely. Some Hot Chip tracks. But that’s a small handful over 10 years.

      Occasionally I try watching a ‘new clips’ thing on TV or tuning in to the radio, but I get about 10 seconds in before some frickin Urban nonsense, vocally-gymnastic popette, and/or novelty YouTube ‘hit’ makes me reach for the nearest stick.

      Its all quite likely that our jelly moulds are firmly set to a particular timeframe, just as generations before us had, and we’ve all turned into curmudgeons about these new ‘styles’ of music and how Millennials go about their business of cultural engagement. With my label hat on, I can honestly say that 90% of the demos we receive now lack original thought; so I suppose the remaining 10% still offer hope…

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      1. When I was young, I had convinced myself that my tastes in rock/pop evolved easily with the times, always enjoying new styles as they came along. In the early 70’s when I was in high school, I loved the over indulgent hard rock bands (which explains why I loved the over-indulgent techno of the mid-nineties- hard crunchy obnoxious loud crazy stuff) as well as the over-indulgent prog rock. I saw every rock concert that came thru Pittsburgh. In the mid 70’s I followed the evolution of all the creators of early 70’s rock into their solo efforts, until I could just not listen to another guitar solo.

        but when groups from the London and NY came along in the late 70’s, WITHOUT GUITAR SOLOS, I bought every punk/new wave record that got a decent review, and then added English SKA to my mix… those were heady times for me…so much great stuff to listen to. (and THE CLASH were releasing 12″ remix stuff!!)

        But then comes 1983 and BlueMonday. I was ruined for life, as I had no interest in rock ever again, unless it came with requisite remixes that delved into electronic sound. And right after BM, I found for myself PetShopBoys, DepecheMode, and Erasure. These four bands have remained the basis of my music taste ever since. And they all still release new music to this day. Mind you, I still enjoy exploring the subgenres of dance music, as they come and go, but all in all, my tastes have not evolved since BM, as the only stuff I enjoy anymore has directly descended from BM.

        I guess I now qualify as curmudgeon….I’m 60, but I still love to shake my butt and I still love to hear a drum sound like BM’s on a big room system….although I rarely go out anymore at all…. The point is, BM ruined me for life… I never listen to any rock, unless it’s like Coldplay or theKillers, who release great club remix stuff.

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  4. Remarkable & original electronic music of the past ten years?

    Short Answer: Daniel Avery’s 2013 LP: Drone Logic. I can hear hints of Leftfield and Paul Woolford in there but he found his own ‘voice’ on this album – his debut no less. Just a fantastic acid/tech house album that everyone should hear. Avery has (rightly) become a big name in dance music based on this album.

    Longer Answer:
    Back in the 90’s a handful of names emerged that could do more than just release one Big Tune. I guess it’s the artists who managed to make proper albums that stick with you and potentially make you a fan. The Primals co-opted house in ’91 with Scremadelica, whilst Orbital appeared in more purist electronic form with their green album. Then we had the likes of Leftfield, Underworld (still good!), Chemical Brothers (still good!), Sabres of Paradise, Massive Attack, DJ Shadow, and Prodigy (circa Fat of the Land).

    I guess by the end of the 90’s/ early 2000’s the dance scene had lost some of that original excitement. Commercial trance/house was just part of the pop music landscape and the initial thrill of a new ‘scene’ was perhaps lost forever. Moby’s Play put dance music in all kinds of commercials, (although if you ignore the overexposure, the album was enjoyable). However if you looked hard enough there was still good stuff below the surface: Big Beat morphed into Nu Skool Breaks (Adam Freeland, Plump DJ’s, Stanton Warriors, Evil 9), which I loved even though the genre didn’t spawn any ‘big’ albums. Prog house became quite big, which was great for the dancefloor but not the home listener, and there was actually some good underground Trance around (check Sasha’s Global Underground 009 comp).

    Then in 2001 Felix da Housecat spawned ‘Electroclash’ with his excellent Kittenz And Thee Glitz Album. Still sounds great today. Royksopp’s Melody AM also came out in 2001 and made a huge impact. In 2004 Mylo’s Destroy Rock N’ Roll LP was surely dance music album of the year, although initially I didn’t ‘get’ it. Tiefschwartz released their “Eat Books” album in 2005 and did some fantastic electro/tech remixes of other people’s stuff. LCD Soundsystem also released their debut in ’05 and have just released a new album this weekend to positive reviews. 2006 saw MSTRKRFT’s excellent house/techno/electro hybrid LP “The Looks” bludgeon the ears of discerning listeners. In a good way.

    The ‘Nu Rave’ scene materialised in 2007 – partly invented by the NME, it centred around Klaxons’ chaotic but danacable indie-rave crossover “Myths of The Near Future” LP which they never bettered. 2007 also saw debut releases from Justice and Simian Mobile Disco. Thier joint hit “We are Your Friends” appeared on neither of their respective debuts’ which were notably released on the same day, ten years and one month ago. Digitalisms’ debut LP was also released in 2007; the excellent “Idealism” is essential listening. They lost their way with their second offering but Digitalism’s third album, “Mirage” released in 2016 is well worth a listen. It’s overly long at 76 minutes but the likes of Dynamo and Utopia are worth checking on youtube.

    Well this post is getting a bit long now so (in list form) in the past ten years I have also dug:
    Jamie xx: In Colour (2015). At times it gets a bit too close to Grime for my tastes but there’s still plenty here to enjoy.
    Modertat: II -or ‘2’ if you prefer- (2013). A German tech house act with three albums to their name. They write actual songs, and like Underworld have a male lead singer. Their first and third albums are also worthwhile.
    Fuck Buttons: Tarot Sport (2009). Dreamy yet exciting electronica. The track ‘Olympians’ was used in the 2012 Olympic opening ceremony.
    Holy Fuck: LP. (2007).
    Crystal Castles: Crystal Castles (2008)
    Crystal Castles: (II) (2010)
    Caribou: Swim (2010)
    Caribou: Our Love (2014)
    For more downtempo/minimal stuff:
    Pantha Du Prince: (Black Noise) and Jon Hopkins (Immunity) both released interesting stuff in 2013.
    And of course anything released by the aforementioned LCD, Underworld and Chemical Brothers in the last ten years has been worth owning.

    As for “EDM” it seems to be a term applied to a certain (America-centric) brand of dance music popularised by Dj’s/producers like Steve Aoki, Avicii and indeed Deadmou5. I usually tend to keep my distance from anything branded “EDM”, and some would suggest the EDM bubble has now burst:
    https://pitchfork.com/thepitch/1086-popping-the-drop-a-timeline-of-how-edms-bubble-burst/

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