Young Galaxy are back with their third album, Shapeshifting, to be released February 8 by Paper Bag Records. Although it feels like their second album came out just yesterday, yesterday was apparently mid-2009. I wasn’t that enamoured with Invisible Republic, so it’s intriguing that Shapeshifting marks a drastic shift in musical direction. After recording, the album was shipped to Swedish electronic producer Dan Lissvik, who sent back an album that is decidedly different from the Young Galaxy we knew.
The vocals remain mostly intact, with the lead shifting between co-founders Catharine McCandless and Stephen Ramsay, but the familiar droning shoegaze guitars have been dumped for synthesized drumbeats and other electronic effects. The Swedish influence is apparent, as the album evokes bands like The Knife and Lissvik’s own Studio. As a re-imagining of the band, it’s a mostly successful experiment. ‘Peripheral Visionaries’ benefits most from this new arrangement; the catchy bass groove would be enough to make it the most memorable song on the album, but the outro is what solidifies it. ‘Cover Your Tracks’ and ‘B.S.E.’ also stand out.
Since departing Arts&Crafts, Young Galaxy seem to have no issue taking risks, and Shapeshifting is indeed a risk. It marks one of the few times a change in sound is more than just some added gimmick, like a horn section. This album would have been drastically different if Jace Lasek of the Besnard Lakes was once again producing, and Young Galaxy deserve credit for stepping out of their comfort zone.