Woahnows are back in the LP game after three years and the timing could not be better. Young and Cool is a collection of clever indie, punk and power pop with rough edges and just the right amount of experimentation to take the album beyond genre expectations. The pushing of genre boundaries is continued with lyrical tone and focus, there is no hetero-normative narrative within these songs instead a fluidity of gender joins the fluidity of genre to create something truly special and forward thinking.
The album eases the listener in with the haunting but somehow still joyful ‘Something to Regret’. In under 60 seconds this perfectly warms the ears for the rest of the LP. The keys gently back the ever emotive vocals with a hint of distortion to add a haunting undertone, the clean vocals create something that feels like a safe honest exchange before the lyrics create a subtle heartache.
After a moment to pause and reflect normal service is resumed, ‘World Explodes’ with choppy guitars and a rolling drumline explodes into life in a heartbeat. This pace is dictated by the bass and drum lines rolling hand in hand behind vocals which crack in and out of emotion, this is a future live favourite for sure. As the release switches track for track it is clear that this LP was written with the flow in mind, the track transitions are completely effortless giving this release a floaty quality that just washes across your ears for the duration.
There are choruses that would elevate the finest of power pop songs throughout this record, this release comes across like a band’s first release where there are numerous single choices because it is a culmination of the best bits of various Eps. In this case Woahnows just write hit after hit, ‘No One Else’ has an utterly infectious chorus which once more will sound delightful with a room full of voices singing it back. The musicianship in ‘Hippy Shit’ despite being off kilter will have toes tapping in an instant, before the ferocious ending leaves listeners breathless. The breathlessness continues with ‘I Know I Knoow’ which uses instant vocals quality of Jeff Rosentock creates pure power and the platform for an enormous drum line. There are an almost endless stream of musical similarities because there is so much musical content. It is also clear that in moving forward the band have taken elements of previous releases and combined them in to what is their best release to date.
Throughout the release there are so many beautiful moments including the calming piano of ‘and Breathe’ which allows a moment to reflect. These moments of reflection become more and more important on every listen. There are so many important lyrics to consider throughout, there are also moments of wonderful wordplay to process. Lyrically this is a release that is disarmingly honest and as a result creates some important thoughts which will become equally important points of conversation. This is essentially an album about life on the outside of social normality, there are moments of realisation on how/why people are marginalised which pair with delicate humour essentially leaving positivity at the core of even the darkest lyrical moments. This song writing is effortlessly clever and when combined with vocals with such emotional range this is a release that inspires joy, emotion and understanding in equal measure. The opening to ‘Whatever Works’ is raw and emotive but the moment that magic drum beat hits and guitar and bass create another huge hook the sadness if offset.
Almost as quickly as this album exploded into life it ends, with one more infectious piece of honesty. With the album closer ‘Cold’ there is a frank discussion on mental health, yet another chorus that rips and musicianship that continues to dazzle. The development takes lyrical and musical elements from the tracks listeners have just fallen in love with and combines them into yet another potential live favourite. The gang vocals that signal the end are a delight and the gentle hum of feedback creates a final moment to consider a few more of the hidden musical and lyrical moments.
‘Young and Cool’ is an incredibly special release the accessibility of pop, the musicianship of math rock, the rough edge of punk and poignant lyrics combine into what could be the best release of 2019.