Under Review

Youth Group

Casino Twilight Dogs / Ivy League Records

Review By Jackie Wong

“I’m so sorry. So sorry. I’m so terribly, terribly sorry. I’m so sorry. So sorry. I’m so terribly, terribly, sorry! I’m so sorry. So sorry. So terribly, terribly…”
If you blanked out after the second “sorry” back there, you might find yourself a little worse for wear in choking down all the “sorries” that make up Youth Group’s “Sorry”, the second track on their latest album, Casino Twilight Dogs. Despite—and perhaps because of—the song’s mammoth reams of apology, I happen to be playing “Sorry” on a loop as I write this review.
Granted, I am feeling a little droopy about love at the moment, so I’m technically in a prime position to review a band as canonically emo as Youth Group. The Sydney-based quartet grew out of Canberra’s indie scene, and has since gained mainstream success with their support of Death Cab for Cutie on a 2005 North American tour (sorry, Discorder cred, but I’m sweeping any remaining shards of you away by openly admitting that I attended and enjoyed the Vancouver show on this tour). To ice the cake, Youth Group’s cover of Alphaville’s “Forever Young” appeared on the 2005 O.C. Soundtrack, slow-dancing them to mainstream success.
I’m neither a fan of covers nor The O.C., so I’d argue that “Forever Young” is one of the weakest tracks on  Casino Twilight Dogs. Overall, it’s a well-produced, thoughtfully-crafted record, but it lacks that layer of acerbity necessary for music of this genre to really fly. The album is at its best with the playground hum of “Daisychains,” the cuddly squish of “Under the Underpass,” and, yes, the Gilgamesh lament of “Sorry,” but the rest of the record is too gentle in its delivery of heartbreak to make any memorable statements. Maybe it’s hard for the shy kids in Youth Group to, like, talk too loudly about their feelings, and stuff. Still, I’d give this record bigger ups if it helped me cry so good, but its radio-rock grooming has neutered the possibility of attaching strong emotion to the music.