Emphasis on the “Beautiful”
Generally, it’s pretty tough for the new kid in school. The halls are crawling with established people and someone new will either turn out to be too strange and ostracized, or could become the coolest kid in town. In an industry that’s typically sink or swim for new artists, Young Beautiful in a Hurry is Michael Phelps; they have a great head start, but really, they don’t need one. The band is “the evolving work of accomplished composer, guitarist, and lead vocalist, Brendan McCreary,” brother of fellow composer Bear McCreary (Battlestar Galactica, The Walking Dead). Among the other members are Bryan Taylor, Sam Beumier, Merrick Mosst, Albert Chiang and Andrew Chiang; all of whom are accomplished musicians. These guys have been working together for a while and it shows in the music. Every player has their part and executes it flawlessly. No one is too loud, the sound isn’t gritty or chunky; it’s polished and refined. The best part? These guys know how to have fun.
So without further ado, here’s the track-by-track:
Track 1: “Everyone Should Know” – This song gets the album off to a great start. The first few seconds of strings suggest that the album itself will take on a darker, more ominous tone, but that soon fades as they resolve and in comes a soft acoustic strumming with Brendan’s voice, reminiscent of Freddie Mercury (Queen) and Doug Fieger (The Knack). When the full band comes in, you get a sound that no band should have on their first release, but somehow, they do. The final seconds contain a throwback to the beginning only this time it’s a guitar, and it’s saying, “all right, now let’s have some fun.”
Track 2: “Light Years” – And that’s exactly what this track is. It’s fun. The chorus is amazingly Knack-like which makes me love it that much more. You can really tell who these guys count among their influences, and they pay tribute with certain hooks and riffs that could only be the result of plenty of careful planning. This is really what a second song should be. The first gets you interested and the second keeps your attention. These guys are incredible musicians.
Track 3: “Ain’t We Famous” – Fans of Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles should recognize this song from season two. After a driving intro, the band kicks in with an absolutely greasy funk riff that almost makes you feel dirty for just listening to it. During the chorus, McCreary, Taylor, and the Chiang’s falsettos send chills down your spine. The whole song reminds me of David Bowie’s “Fame”, if Michael Jackson had sung it too.
Track 4: “I Got Love” – This track makes the album for me. It’s a fun soul-like song that channels the energies of greats like Otis Redding and Chubby Checker. It’s pure and simple, no fluff. Feeling down? Put this track on, and you will feel so much better.
Track 5: “We All Stay Together” – Crunchy guitar over the story of a bad relationship with throwbacks to Louis Jordan. Beautiful.
Track 6: “The Prince” – It sounds like a story about an old acquaintance. Maybe the cool kid in high school. He (or she) hasn’t made much of themselves and it almost sounds like the narrator pities the old acquaintance. Until the end. By the end, the former frustration bubbles to the surface and explodes right into his face.
Track 7: “I Am A Man” – Another throwback to 60’s and 70’s soul, and this one seems to do it better. McCreary’s voice and pleading lyrics summon memories of Ray Charles. Much bluesier than “I Got Love”, it tells the story of a man in love with a woman who treats him badly. Something every man should be able to relate to at one point or another.
Track 8: “Friday Afternoon” – Remember Jason Mraz? The guy who came out with that sickeningly catchy tune that’s been played on every pop radio station every hour on the hour? This song reminds me of a time before that song. See, Jason Mraz was at one time, a respectable musician who made good songs. “Friday Afternoon” is how Jason Mraz should sound. Too bad he doesn’t, and thank the lucky stars that Young Beautiful in a Hurry does.
Track 9: “Do It Twice” – Remember when I compared McCreary’s voice to Freddie Mercury’s? This song is the perfect example of that. The beginning is soft and smooth, while the chorus and middle of the song conjure up more of an Oingo Boingo type of energy. It’s poppy, it’s fun, it’s something that we should always expect from these guys.
Track 10: “Trust Me” – The beginning sounds like “My Sharona” (The Knack) and “Pump It Up” (Elvis Costello) had a baby. Soon, that leaves us with a wonderfully Queen-like verse and chorus that leaves you begging for more. If this song could be any catchier, you’d have contracted something nasty from it. For any other band, this would be the final track. For these guys, that’s not good enough.
Track 11: “Olivia” – Jason Mraz’s former talent stops by again, this time accompanied by crooning eerily similar to Michael Bublé. This final track is so simple and sweet that it kicks you across the face with a smile. About two-thirds of the way through the track, out of nowhere, an amazingly catchy and toe-tapping calypso beat joins the show to bring the song and the entire album to an amazing and outstanding ending.
The each song on the album is strong on its own, but the best part of the album is that they’re all together. They’re all amazingly fun and extremely well put together, which should make anyone happy. Of them all, my favorites are “Light Years”, “Trust Me” and “Olivia”, but then again, anyone who doesn’t like “Olivia” may be made from stone.
The album is fantastic, especially for a freshman release. It holds the promise of a seasoned group of musicians that we can all bet will be back (hopefully soon) with more amazing music.