South coast indie kid turned electronic champion returns with a stunner of a second album
If, as our guitar toting friends would have it, the end of the world as we know it starts with an earthquake, you’d better brace yourself.
The speakers crackle. A helicopter thud-thud-thud kicks in from somewhere over there and swirls around you. Then the noise starts, an insistent, white, bright fuzz. You’re under attack. A siren wails. And then from nowhere, rich, soothing chords slowly begin to rise and fall, as if sounding the all-clear.
This is ‘The Juddering’, the opening track on William Doyle’s sophomore offering as East India Youth, a record that laughs in the face of the difficult second album adage. Yet it should have been difficult. How do you follow a debut like last year’s highly acclaimed, Mercury-nominated ‘Total Strife Forever’? Who even knew the former frontman of indie almost-rans Doyle & The Fourfathers had this in him in? You almost fear for him.
While the first East India Youth album was an assured unfurling of Doyle’s electronic canvas, ‘Culture Of Volume’ finds said canvas covered with a thrilling sonic assault. Chaotic in places and often nudging on the brink of overload in others, underpinning it all is a deft melodic pop sensibility. It’s quite a ride.
There are some unusual influences at work too. ‘End Result’, ‘Turn Away’ and the epic 10-minuter ‘Manner Of Words’ all have distinctly folky vibes, or perhaps it’s flecks of prog. There’s some early Genesis in Mr Doyle’s collection, we’ll wager. And if that sounds odd, you’d be right, because this is an odd record. Gloriously so.
Sat alongside the onslaught of the opener and the folk/prog leanings, there are tracks such as ‘Beaming White’, which arches its back in an uplifting Pet Shop Boys kind of way, the happy champagne tinkles of ‘Heart That Never’, and the insistent four-to-the-four banger ‘Entirety’. The big difference between this album and East India Youth’s debut is that where vocals were lacking on the latter, ‘Culture Of Volume’ is predominantly vocal-led, with pride of place taken by ‘Carousel’. Blimey. Quivering and churchy and haunting, like tears rolling down soft cheeks, it slowly builds to a huge, satisfying wall of sound. It is the most affecting six minutes and 24 seconds you’ll hear for some time.
There was always a danger that ‘Total Strife Forever’ was a one-off, that William Doyle got lucky. ‘Culture Of Volume’ very much says otherwise.