REVIEW: Deleted Scenes – Young People’s Church of the Air

Since Deleted Scenes‘ inception in 2005, the Maryland band have produced an EP and LP which have garnered a lot of attention among the music press and fans alike. Following the release of 2009’s Birdseed Shirt, Deleted Scenes have supported the likes of Wild Nothing, Cursive, and The Antlers. Known for their excellent live shows and infectious hooks, the band have released their second LP, Young People’s Church of the Air.

Straight away, you notice that this album feels a bit more refined than Birdseed Shirt. It seems like Deleted Scenes have a clearer idea of what they want to accomplish with their music than they did in 2009. Young People’s Church of the Air mixes industrial production qualities with frontman Dan Scheuerman‘s airy vocals in a way that feels almost Animal Collective-esque.

Vocally, think of Scheuerman as a cross between The Shins‘ James Mercer and Brian Wilson. His voice shows the same vocal range as his contemporaries, while shrouded in a muffled mist that compliments the music greatly.  The rhythm to the album is a high-point, with percussion used to its advantage as much as possible, industrial drums pervade most of the tracks and give it a feel akin to the latter half of The Postal Service‘s ‘This Place is a Prison’.
Young People’s Church of the Air carries on the theme of love and angelic bliss, but also seems to be held down by regret throughout. Even in ‘Bedbedbedbedbed‘ the words “I did some shit that I can’t deny / but you are my merciful girl” signify the regret that the narrator has built up inside, but he wants to make amends through this album. The album’s title is a hint at the content, with lots of serene imagery used throughout.

The thing that Deleted Scenes seem to be best at doing with this album is providing hooks on almost every song that make the songs so enjoyable to listen to. Although this isn’t true on absolutely every song, ‘Nassau’ sees the pace slow down and the hooks disappear, with just vocals and an acoustic guitar to hold it up, but that change of pace is welcome and shows a more emotional tone to the music.

As an introduction to the album, ‘A Litany For Mrs. T’ paints a vivid picture of what to expect. With a slow build-up of drums and vocals that reach breaking point before chants of “Hallelujah“, harp tones and a relentless drum beat fills the air. Second track Days of Adderall is a flurry of Battles-like rhythms and tribal drums floating around dreamy melodies, with a trademark hook. “You’ve got a magical illusion” sings Scheuerman in a muffled tone while harps guide the way. It sounds almost… heavenly.

Lead single, ‘Bedbedbedbedbed’ follows on from ‘The Days of Adderall’ with the same vocal style and pace, but straight away we’re greeted with military-style drums giving the song a distinct rhythm. Lyrically, the song carries on a heavenly theme. It’s like its being sung to an angel, “you are an immaculate girl /sent from above / you are everything that I want / my love.” It may sounds overly romanticised but the way its delivered feels so light and charming that it just slides by and feels genuine.

Album highlight ‘English as a Second Language’ is a multi-layered delight that uses synths and vocals to create a wonderfully bouncy, up-beat song. The second half takes a more fast and directed approach before fading off to the repetition of “well you told me you weren’t in love” that sounds heart-breaking in the context.

With Young People’s Church of the AirDeleted Scenes have created an excellent collection of songs that really are a joy to listen to. Addictive hooks? Check. Poignant lyrics? Check. One of my favourite albums in quite a while?… Check.

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