Over the past year or so, Last Youth have built themselves up to be one of the most streamed unsigned bands based in Ohio. But no one is talking about this band. Right out of the gate, I expected that to happen – their sound is accessible, and they’re working with one of the best in the business; a certain Ross Theisen who has a knack for bringing cohesion to a band’s vision, sound, and aesthetic.
Pop rock and a two piece. We’ve heard this story before. But Last Youth’s debut full length is a cheerful journey into nearly all of the elements of pop-rock you can think of. Shoot, you get a lot right off the bat. “Needed You” is an album opener that has everything. A big chorus. A hook to jump up and down to at a show. A gnarly synth-driven beat. Down to earth piano. Harmonies.
As I sit here listening, I’m trying to come up with comparisons. Being a synth-infused pop rock band, the list should be endless, right? It’s hard to muster some name drops, but in “Like a Cannibal.” a suprising name comes to mind: U2. Emotional yet happy swells wash over me, especially in that chorus! Elements of that anthemic trademark come back throughout the album. “I Don’t Know” has probably my other favorite chorus on the album, but there’s a bit more of a pop punk influence here. It’s kinda funny to picture Bono rolling with Blink 182 for a day, but if that happened perhaps a song like this one would result. The same can be said for “Won’t Do It Again,” with added guitar noodling that reminds me of Phoenix’s “Lisztomania.”
Another name that comes to mind is a bit more modern – Sam Tinnesz. You might not know his name, but you’ve probably heard his stuff in a movie or commercial. Last Youth is definitely writing bops that are prime for cinema. “Rosaria” sounds distinctly up this alley and even a little unsettling. Somehow, Last Youth is able to write songs that are airy and bombastic at the same time.
The First of the Last’s release had unfortunate timing in that it came out in the holiday season, avoiding year end lists. This might have been smart, actually – release a record when the band is likely to have you full attention. They certainly have mine now.