Claiming inspiration from acts like OKGO and MGMT, Youth Model, the brainchild of Columbia’s Matt Holmes definitely manages an ornate modern indie pop sound of its own. On “All New Scars”, he takes the listener on a sonic journey that also finds allegiances outside of current trends, though; a dedication to ‘80s synth pop and new wave is also evident with lots of guitar-focused songs reminiscent of artists like Rick Springfield. One could even spot an adherence to the doctrine of ‘90s guitar-based alt-pop like Matthew Sweet on some tracks, with the soulful vocals of Holmes leading the charge on all songs.
Album opener “Couldn’t Resist” has as enormous pop sound, driven by keys and a guitar riff that creeps up on your memory. “We Sold Out” continues in the vein, with an almost ‘60s pop vocal feel. “Good Word” shows off Matt’s poppy blue-eyed soul vocals and at times reminded me of Faith No More’s Mike Patton’s soulful singing in both FNM and some of his other more pop-oriented bands. It also flips the switch and has a delightfully unexpected smashed-up ending, courtesy of a wild guitar solo. Most of the album travels in the land of soulful indie pop when it isn’t just falling square in guitar-inflected pure pop. The record ends with “Break”, an aching piano ballad, that also features the vocals of Laurel MacCallum. Her great, pure voice also trades lines with Holmes in the song “Better Way” and she makes a first-rate counterpart on these tracks.
It’s hard to imagine a modern radio station that would pass up on the pop gems available on “All New Scars”. Holmes has created a pretty amazing sounding record, basically under his own direction and muse. He says the band name is a reference to the idyllic youthful feelings he gets when playing and listening to his new one should put many listeners in a similar mood. Here’s hoping more people follow this model.
Recommended if you like: Coldplay, OKGO, Matthew Sweet
Sean Knight is a native South Carolinian who has spent his life bouncing back and forth between SC and Texas, playing in bands you probably never heard of in both states and stinking up open-mic nights in the Low Country for many years. He plays, collects, listens to and probably spends too much of his life obsessing over music.