Young Jesus’ fourth LP Welcome to Conceptual Beach is a revelation on fluid song forms and structures. The Los Angeles quartet has always been known for their unique sound and songwriting style, and no more does it shine than in this latest offering. Post-rock jams collide with jazzy improv sections, melodies and ideas dip in and dive out without a set time. Songs don’t carry a distinct pattern, instead they move around according to the whims of each idea, carefully guided by frontman John Rossiter at the helm.
There are several glimpses of midwest emo and math-rock influences in here, which has guided Young Jesus’ sonic pallet on their earlier releases. But they have since grown in confidence with their artistic style to push conventions, resulting in an emotionally rich experience that’s unique only to them.
The opener “Faith”, is more of a three part story on its own. It starts with a movement of calm and light syncopated rhythms, then moves to a post-rock weaving of angular riffs before simmering to a minimalist glide of vocals and rhythms. “That’s how we live / Between pain and hopelessness”, Rossiter belts at it’s climactic peak, exploring our relationship with faith and suffering in an ever-evolving society.
Philosophical themes and musings occur quite frequently in Conceptual Beach. And like the ever-changing nature of ideas surrounding morality and the right way of living, so too does the songs in this album evolve. “Pattern Doubt”is filled with horn flourishes and glittering keys, roaming free across the mix in an improvisational manner. Aptly accompanying a song that questions whether or not patterns should be followed and how often we should break from the mold.
The album is full of long-form meditations, but one highlight is “Root and Crown”, which dazzles in its minimalism. In it Rossiter sings with more weight and gravitas: “Every record needs a thesis, needs a crisis, or campaign”, positing that challenges are necessary for us to grow: “And from the depths will come the brightest fire”.
The album ends with two epics clocking at more than ten minutes each. “Lark” is a journey of stitched up math rock exultations and chattering jazz club scenes. “Magicians” is bright and wondrous, filled with chorale voices and sparkling riffs that warp and evolve in a celebration of magic.
Welcome to Conceptual Beach is a cohesive piece of art that’s cerebral and relaxing at the same time. You can choose to sit back and relax or dive deep and dissect it’s themes. Either way it’ll be time well spent. The mark of a finely crafted piece of art.