Latvia’s excellent indie rockers Carnival Youth returned with a new English album two weeks ago to continue their quirky but fun attack on rock music. Whilst I usually associate them with earworms that are upbeat and dramatic, ‘Good Luck’ expands their sound palette to include some heavy 80’s production influences.
The merger of all of these ideas pops out immediately with opening track ‘Two Monkeys’. It has their signature synths and chugging verses but the chorus is an explosion of anthemic guitars and vocals, huge 80’s drums and hand waving melodies. The album leans into this mini-vaporwave tinged rock by mixing it with surfer rock hardness in the raucous track ‘Baby’ and the more breezy anthem ‘Side By Side’. It’s here where the rhythm and flow of Carnival Youth show off just how much of a unit they’ve become.
Elsewhere indie-pop undertones kick in with the Beck-esque ‘Phantom Planet’, ‘Desktop’ and ‘Only the Moon Can See the Sun’. Here its all about bringing the funky but gritty basslines, lush acoustic guitar and crazy lyrics. Carnival Youth has long had a penchant for interesting and evocative lyrics and ‘Desktop’ is a wonderfully insightful look into someone’s harddrive. Then we have acoustic-based radio hits in waiting with ‘Birthday’ and ‘Pumpkin Pie’. Both have that timeless blend of old school traditional rock with some modern production tricks.
New for Carnival Youth though are some of the dramatic rock ballads. In particular ‘Landlord (Die Alone)’ hits particularly hard. It is the big long number on the album at over six minutes and with a full string arrangement, massive pianos and a sweeping arrangement, it shows that the band are no slouches when they want to be beautiful and serious too. This stadium rock also pops out for ‘Friends’ with its psych-orchestral finale that feels like ascending the stairs to heaven which is another standout moment.
‘Good Luck’ is another tour de force from Carnival Youth who deserve to be getting tons of success and airplay. The album really shows how diverse they can be whilst sounding coherent throughout. Whilst you may not have the should be radio anthems of ‘Seagulls on Bicycles’, it has a megaton of heart and soul and that makes it a unique prospect in 2019.
Recommended track: Birthday
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