Culture | Music

Music Review: ‘Birthday’ and ‘Phantom Planet’, two new singles by Latvian band Carnival Youth – “what’s not to like?”

Rating:

30/04/2019

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The Riga indie trio Carnival Youth comprises twins Edgars and Emils Kaupers on guitar and drums respectively and Roberts Vanags on keyboards, while they all contribute vocals. They appear to have parted company with their bassist Alexsis in recent years. They’ve been together since 2012 and have so far released two albums, No Clouds Allowed (2014) andPropeller (2016) with a third, Good Luck, coming later this year.

Carnival Youth http://carnivalyouth.lv

Carnival Youth
http://carnivalyouth.lv

‘Birthday’ opens with some driving drums and its ethereal keyboard sound gives it a bright and breezy air. It comes across as a happy love song with lyrics like: “A day like all the other days. Nothing has changed but you smiled at me. Have I finally done something right? Not sure – what did you mean? But it feels like I’m seventeen.”

 However, an undercurrent of melancholy’s introduced by a slower tempo and the lines, “How long has it been since we danced for no reason? How long has it been since we did something for fun?”

Album Cover: No Clouds Allowed (2014)

Album Cover: No Clouds Allowed (2014)

The song has a catchy chorus, “Hey! It’s your/my birthday (x2). Sadness of the world doesn’t matter anymore.” The predominant instrument is that carnivalesque keyboard that’s reminiscent of The Inspiral Carpets – which can’t be bad – while the tight bass and drums provide a solid rhythm and there’s a full well-produced sound with a lot of guitar and drum flourishes going on underneath.

‘Phantom Planet’ has a very bright psychedelic Sixties air, opening and closing with a somewhat ‘Satanic Majesty’s’ section, and musically it’s like playing with a pink pussy-cat in a beautiful sunny garden. The vocals are deliberately distorted for some sections so the lyrics aren’t so clear at times, but they certainly hint at a darkness that’s in stark contrast to the music with the chorus “Shadow in my heart. Dancing in the dark (x2). I feel there’s something inside… it kicks… I’m afraid to move, it’s everywhere…”

Album Cover: Propeller (2016)

Album Cover: Propeller (2016)

The keyboard’s more subdued in this song but, again, the strong interplay of drums and bass provide a solid foundation and there’s a lot of interwoven texture with the guitar and keyboard. It’s a catchy, well-played song with a hint of menace in the lyrics – what’s not to like?

 There’s a video for each of the songs on YouTube and ‘Phantom Planet’s’ has strong echoes of the Beatles ‘Yellow Submarine’ cartoon. Both songs are taken from the aforementioned album Good Luck, which is due to be released on 16thAugust. They have appeared in the U.K. before but have no dates coming up here this year. You can keep in touch with their activities on their Facebook page and on www.carnivalyouth.lv

On YouTube:

‘Phantom Planet’: https://youtu.be/CH9arvGJH9U

‘Birthday’: https://youtu.be/lXo-d-L5Kkc

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