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whenyoung – Paragon Songs Review

Major risks do nothing to scare whenyoung. Following up their incredible debut, Reasons to Dream, with the hefty gut-punch that is Paragon Songs cements the Aoife Power and Niall Burns. Harsh and unremitting, warm and inviting, Paragon Songs is just about everything it could possibly hope to be. It blurs those feelings well and charmingly, with the heavy effectiveness of loud and boisterous instrumentals erupting when and where it can. An insistent record that showcases its indie pop start with pride as it wraps the Limerick roots around its lyrics, whenyoung move toward a honed and fresh instrumental styling that underscores Power and her consistencies as the vocal spirit of a band still finding their style. 

Paragon Songs lands a considerable, fresh feel. Its electronic-leaning pieces are an exciting change of pace. “I’m getting good at this,” as the beat-going The Laundress notes. That they are. With whenyoung opening their arms to new stylings and a darker, acidic tone, it gives Paragon Songs a major shift in momentum after a rewarding and likeable debut. The trippy, garage dubs of The Laundress make for a nice shift in pace to their guitar-heavy origins, and it is a change in pace that cements a uniqueness to whenyoung. Whether that will stick is up to the conviction of its members, but they appear hellbent on making it and the spoken-word intermissions on Home Movie work. Their wall of sound style, the heavier elements of percussion and their fixation on turning the self-analysing intimacies into a boisterous explosion of noise is a fresh and exciting change of pace. 

Where their first album was a warm and intense blanket to be draped over the listener, the slower charms and sporadic changes in pace make Paragon Songs a perky and invigorating, demanding listen. Ghost tries to trickle through a pop-like beat and while it is not the strongest track whenyoung has put out, it is great to hear them consider their sound and where it can take them. With that comes the risk of an uneven record, and while Paragon Songs is not as consistent as Reasons to Dream, it does have more to offer in the way of range. A Little Piece of Heaven drags out that Limerick vocal charm that Power does well to rely on from time to time, but the slice of heaven and worth found in that track makes for a shift in momentum for Paragon Songs.  

Perfect examples of particular qualities, Paragon Songs is a tad mismatched but does well to keep its refined musicianship and quality at the heart of it all. Structured as well as can be for a band seemingly unsure of what they wish to make their next sound, the half-baked B-Side still an entertaining experience that hears shimmering, boastful percussion on Even More and desire for new beginnings charted well on Shed My Skin. Ending their sonic journey with Gan Ainm, whenyoung miss out on the chance to prove themselves as a pair with no name. If anything, Paragon Songs will cement their name right there in the tracks of indie rock and soulful, earnest attempts at figuring out their next steps. There is plenty of time for that, but Paragon Songs hopes to figure it out sooner rather than later.  

Ewan Gleadow
Ewan Gleadow
Editor in Chief at Cult Following | News and culture journalist at Clapper, Daily Star, NewcastleWorld, Daily Mirror | Podcast host of (Don't) Listen to This | Disaster magnet

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