Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Recording engineered by Mike Gentry
Our galaxy, or at least our small corner of the Milky Way galaxy, is an old maid at this point. She's got a hacking, chain-smoker's cough and a potbelly, though she can write it off as genetics and issues beyond her control. She's raised a planet of gluttons and wasteful dickheads (note to self: the Live Earth ballyhooing was last week, but this dead horse still needs beating) and the irreversible physical deformities are worse than those of Kenny Rogers and Donatella Versace combined and to the nth degree.
Against her will, we've made her a disgusting mess. We'd all like to upgrade, wouldn't we, to something very similar to this galaxy we've already made home, but perhaps find one with a better body, a little more space, a quieter neighborhood, fewer catastrophic weather events, cleaner air and less humidity. Something with a new smell to it, but ultimately very similar to what we have. It's a shameful thing to use a use a band's name to springboard into analysis and rumination about their art, but if you stick with the flowery build-up, this one just might work. An old galaxy and a new galaxy share a distinguishing characteristic. Like it or not, believe it or not, every galaxy consists of 90-percent dark matter.
The numbers, to the decimal points, obviously can vary, but give or take, we're talking about a lot of the dark stuff and with all of that out there, it's not surprising that we ingest some of it. As the porous beings that we are, there are millions upon millions of little openings - smaller than pin pricks - through which all of this dark matter can enter our skim, worm into our bloodstreams and hijack our insides and get them to dance a slow one.
Montreal's Young Galaxy is a harbinger of concentrated dark matter launching a smooth attack into everywhere. Lead singers Stephen Ramsay and Catherine McCandless love themselves those sad songs that ache from the inside-out. The band's eponymous debut on Arts & Crafts is wallpapered with notions of struggle and the forbearance of happy conclusions. Planes are falling out of skies, suns are falling out of skies - life is a battle, peeps, treat it that way. The pain of it all deserves reverence as Ramsay embraces the droning atmosphere that is non-negotiable.
The record (as well as the newest - "Shapeshifting") is a trove of lost sentiments -- the kind that leave behind a sticky residue that just won't rinse away no matter how much you scrub. When living's been a battle once, even when improvements occur, there remains the devilish observer in the back of the brain that sits panting, just waiting for the other shoe to drop. It's a little bastard, sure, but it's there and there's no getting rid of it. Ramsay sings of the nagging difficulties in love that pry a person into halves -- the one half that wants to be happy and move along and the second half that knows it's not going to happen anytime soon. For the record, a change of scenery would be cosmetic. That which is old can be new again in the bat of a lash. Ramsay and McCandless are professors of this way of thinking. To battle the dark matter is a never-ending war. Good luck and take good care of your feet.