National Music Reviews March 2016

Review: Lust For Youth – Compassion

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Lust For Youth
Compassion

Sacred Bones
Street: 03.18
Lust For Youth = (Pet Shop Boys x Depeche Mode) / New Order

Lust For Youth’s bloom of synthpop has grown wildly in recent years, from Hannes Norrvide’s bedroom ambiance to bubble-glum growths of lush, exuberant new wave. The inclusion of live collaborator Loke Rahbek (Sexdrome, Vår) and producer Malthe Fischer on 2014’s International vaulted the project from bedroom-synth haze through a pulsing joyride of dizzying attraction and euphoric adoration, soundtracking a Cimmerian club life with bright light and glamor. With Compassion, Norrvide and co. are again out to quench an existential thirst, this time armed with stadium-sized pop and more anthems for inner youth.

Laced with torrid passion, Compassion exudes a deliberate air of confidence. Fertilized by equal parts sublime melody and Balearic beats, Compassion’s eight tracks carry on International’s nightlife drama with absolute poise. Its hook is immediate, luring with a crystalline pulse on opener “Stardom.” “Limerence” pines with the group’s favorite emotions: euphoria and ecstasy in search of reciprocation, while the black celebration of “Sudden Ambitions” cultures from a limerence over-developed, throwing the group’s romantic ideals into an icy synth wake.

While Norrvide’s formative palate of lo-fi synths and hazy darkwave provides a certain gothic foundation for Lust For Youth, Compassion’s shimmering turn furthers the group’s run into limelight. Though they’re the most pop-driven act of Copenhagen’s electro noise-punk label, Posh Isolation, Lust For Youth’s passion isn’t alien; Rahbek’s partner in Vår, Elias Bender Rønnenfelt, is a budding icon himself, and the label’s multitudinous projects are similarly ambitious in their scope of experimentation. Providing a coy foil to Iceage’s rakish sexuality, Norrvide exudes Scandinavian cool, his sensuous, melancholic croons carry nervy yet confident melodies throughout. Norrvide’s stunning achievement is “Better Looking Brother,” which first emerged as a single in 2015. Lunging out from Compassion’s midpoint, its sparkling lattice of chiming guitars and midnight dance channels a prowling energy, merging a blissful union of Fischer’s Johnny Marr jangle and Rahbek’s glorious “Blue Monday” disco, goading complicity with lines like “You have a part to play tonight, in whatever is to come.”

The album has its demure moments, too—the airy instrumental breeze of “Easy Window” thins the album’s pulsing emotive beat and provides a cool respite from its peaks. Elsewhere, “Display” smolders; it’s a torcher of a duet between Norrvide and Danish electro-pop artist Soho Rezanejad—who appears on International’s “Armida.” What follows is one last dancefloor pulse: “Tokyo,” a sentimental vignette of sweetly throbbing beats and chiming guitar pings. When the group emerges with the smokey “In Return,” they’ve lasted long enough to see the morning-after light.

Despite drawing comparisons to synthpop titans of yore, Lust For Youth likely won’t be pacing arena stages anytime soon. Popular music’s appetite for arena-goth bands has given way to hyper-marketable, watered-down facsimiles. Rather, at its bottom line, Compassion charts a course for giving in and losing oneself to pop’s internal calculus—the power of its chirpy riffs, auditory sigils with the power to bristle skin, immediate enough to collapse any puffy artistic endeavor. In the age of studied pop-revivalism, Compassion is Movement and Technique, its bright guitar-and-synth drama blossoming track after track into ecstatic sound. –Christian Schultz