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Goodbye Terrible Youth

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Album Review

After St. Louis-based Scotsman Gary McClure made waves in the indie sphere with his lo-fi solo project's eponymous debut American Wrestlers, he scored a record deal with Fat Possum and regrouped, so to speak. The follow-up, Goodbye Terrible Youth, finds American Wrestlers expanded to a four-piece that includes the songwriter's wife, Bridgette Imperial. It also exhibits a sleeker sound than the notably rough-hewn debut, with McClure having invested in "a laptop and some decent microphones." Thankfully, these changes don't erode the outfit's free-spirited charisma. If anything, the effect here is more similar to moving from a live recording to the studio than into something that's watered down or compromised. McClure, who engineered the album, still loads up on distortion and haze, and the songwriting still shines on Goodbye Terrible Youth, a reference to making music for his 15-year-old self. In the process, the album speaks to an amount of angst and anger about life and the state of the world. The first track, "Vote Thatcher," for instance, addresses lost youth and police brutality ("Stoned by policemen who were stunned by their souls"). The song opens with dissonance and distortion before settling into a loose web of synths and rhythmic guitar jangle. Inspired in part by the 2016 election year, "Amazing Grace" questions faith in general and society's trajectory amid a murky Wall of Sound focused by a single piano line. Elsewhere, the living spirit of Johnny Marr skips through "Give It Up" in between fuzzy blocks of guitars and keyboards, all under one of McClure's deft melodies. Throughout, a frustrated search for serenity is reflected in nebulous accompaniment that weaves in and out of hooks that don't quite find firm footing until the sparse closer "Real People." Even its ambling, arpeggiated guitar and piano are eventually met with distortion ("Don't worry about me/I get along/Sing alone"). This restlessness is consistently joined by driving rhythms and tunefulness, making for a sweet flurry of an album that blows by in a heartfelt 30 minutes.


Formed: 2014 in St. Louis, MO

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '10s

A lo-fi indie pop project that seemingly burst out of nowhere in late 2014, American Wrestlers was a one-man studio band that managed to rise above the fray thanks to inventive songwriting, clever low-budget production, and the support of the indie music blogosphere. American Wrestlers was the creation of Gary McClure, a musician born and raised in Glasgow, Scotland who, by the late '90s, had settled in Manchester, England and teamed up with producer and multi-instrumentalist Phil Kay to form the...
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Goodbye Terrible Youth, American Wrestlers
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