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The Arc

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Album Review

Young and Sexy have built a uniformly excellent catalog of brilliantly conceived and executed pop music for adults. Full of sophisticated arrangements, heartbreakingly felt and delivered vocals, and tricky, memorable melodies, their albums have been like a dream come true to fans of '80s pop groups like the Go-Betweens and Prefab Sprout. Like those bands, Young and Sexy have kept things interesting by making changes from album to album both in sound and in lyrical outlook. On their previous effort, Panic When You Find It, the band scaled back a touch on the arrangements and went straight to the bleak heart of things musically while lyrically touching on matters both personal and political with real insight and feeling. On The Arc the group revisits the lush and full sound of earlier album Life Through One Speaker using loads of reverb in the mix and plenty of atmosphere throughout, providing a dramatic background for their new lyrical approach. Forsaking the intimate and emotionally naked feel of past records, Paul Hixon Pittman's words are a knotty tangle of imagery it might take an advanced degree in medieval history to decipher. There's talk of brimstone, bison, fires, floods and war as well an underlying current of struggle with religion. Subjects worthy of discussion for sure, but on a pop album like this, words so intensely personal and ornate serve as a barrier to emotional involvement on the part of the listener. The band's previous work was so direct and real that it's difficult to accept their pulling back from hands-on reality and cloaking things in mystery. The music draws you in with beautiful sounds and the words push you away; it's like a cruel joke. Too bad, because Lucy Brain's vocals are as wonderful as ever, she comes as close as anyone could to breaking your heart with lines like "The elixir's clear but swallows all shards and barbs/Our lady tips back the chalice." In fact, the entire band sounds committed to the songs and that's what keeps the record from failing. See, for all the problems one might run into with the lyrics, the sound, feel and performances found within are so compelling that it's possible enjoy the record and be moved by the sound, even while hiding from the words. And the moments like "The Echo," where they come out and say what they mean, are magical as ever. Consider The Arc a noble try at something new and epic, but also a bit of a downturn from Young and Sexy's usual brilliance.


Formed: 1998 in Vancouver, British Columbia, Cana

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '00s

Young and Sexy's boy-girl vocals, gentle melodies, and golden arrangements pay true homage to the Beatles while securing them a spot in the ranks of contemporary wonder popsters Call & Response, Aislers Set, Beulah, Gentle Waves, and the Clientele. The origins of Young and Sexy lie in a chance meeting between Paul Hixon Pittman and Lucy Brain in Vancouver in 1993. They spoke briefly at a place called the Bread Garden as Brain prepared Pittman's sandwich. Minutes later, she was surprised to find...
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The Arc, Young and Sexy
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