When I received Turns, the new album of the Munich punk alternative band Youth Okay, I already knew what it’s about: Depression. The band wanted to dedicate their first Album after their reinvention to give voice to the people who suffer this mental illness, which is still overlooked. Because, even though almost everyone knows someone who is afflicted by depression or was affected by it, far too few people dare to treat this topic as what it is today unfortunately: normality.
Triggered by the death of a very close family member as a result of this silent illness, the desire arose to devote the new Youth Okay album to this issue and „turn up the volume“. To increase the impact Youth Okay not only released a LP but also a book which broaches the issue with an artistic attempt.
Knowing about that I took the vinyl out of its package really carefully, having its fragility in mind.
And then the music started and was so different from what I expected: Not at all sad and suffering. Rather energetic and powerful, almost comforting.
From the first to the last song, Turns delivers a collection of pieces that are multi-layered and hard to put into a pigeonhole. At some points alternative rock, sometimes punk with deep throat screaming lyrics, sometimes poppy and here and there with choirs and synthesizer effects and even brass instruments.
These are a remnant of the former brass punk band Naked Superheroes, which, even after their invention and the renaming in Youth Okay, does not dispense with the instruments, but electronically alienated them with effect devices, so that trumpet and trombone seem like synthesizers. The result is a kind of pop-punk with electric side-blows.
Even if Youth Okay certainly do not reinvent the wheel musically – they remind me of Blackout Problems and even of Senses Fail – their mixture of Pop, Punk, Alternative Rock and even Brass and the gripping atmosphere of their songs is unique and catchy. And of course the implementation of the record as a work of art in combination with a book and this important message is quite remarkable. On Turns, the content is paramount, even if the music is also notable: complex, profound and intense.
Youth Okay show that they master their craft and you realize that they care much more about the message of their songs than about the music itself.
Indeed, in Static Air, one actually gets the feeling of being cornered on the one hand and apathetic on the other, which many a depressive people suffer from. A constant alternation between tricky and driven-sounding parts and sustained pieces, which eventually overturn in synth brass and fat beats, ending in an orchestra of notes and sensations.
Supposed To Do also plays with opposites and contradictions and delivers the feeling of being lost and helpless. What begins as an electro-pop piece, finally ends in a pathetic-sounding soprano choir, which is merged with increasingly energetic vocals.
Watch the moving video:
Mouse In Maze dares to portray the inner world of depressives as well as of their relatives.
„In my mind I remember, that you fell behind. Now we’ll meet in the safe zone to hide / From the demons, that followed at your side.“
Also current political grievances and social issues are addressed on Turns. At first glance, they may not have anything in common with the subject of depression, but they should certainly also make their contribution to the inner disruption of our society.
Get Up addresses the freedom of opinion and freedom of speech, and here, too, a chorus gives the song its weight and meaning.
World on Fire is about our double standards of being ecologically and politically correct and compassionate and forces us to take a look at ourselves:
„The fur I’m wearing is already dead. / I’m not a killer / I live in peace. / My smartphone is everything I need / But if it’s old / I want it new / I’ll buy a better one or maybe I need two? “
An unbelievably cool sound by virtue of the distorted wind instruments, which are opening the song and support it later in the background, by distorting the spoken words.
Left untold turns out to be my personal earwig track, which grabs me especially with the background choirs and the simple but beautiful melody. And lines like these that seem to fit on everything nowadays:
„We’re falling down / hitting the solid ground / we’re gonna try / gonna try it again!“
Turns touches me, especially because of the book that Youth Okay released in combination with the record. In a really meaningful design, it comes as a diary, in which thoughts are collected – from band members, from affected persons, from those who feel better today – and in between lyrics and pages that encourage thought.
There is no front and back. You can turn the book and read it from the other side. The lines sometimes are mirrored horizontally. Sometimes they seem to jump out of the grid. A message that is packed so beautifully: It’s okay not to be okay. There is no right and no wrong.
I am grateful to be able to write this review and am really touched by the effort Youth Okay made with this.
With Turns, Youth Okay show that depression is not something to be taken out of the box with kid gloves, but rather openly and with empathy to develop an understanding. Because it can hit us all, and no one of us would probably want to be treated like glass, that is that thin that you look through, but, that has its edges that someone should grab and hold tight.
- The One To Change
- For A Moment
- Get up
- Static Air
- Supposed To Do
- What’s It All About
- Mouse In A Maze
- World On Fire
- Left Untold
- Quite A Lot Alone
- Turn Around