In school, children are often taught to “reduce, reuse and recycle,” and it seems the message really stuck with Never Shout Never frontman, Christofer Drew, with his new album “Recycled Youth, Vol. One.”
The title’s self-explanatory, really. The nine-song collection features tracks previously released throughout the years, and even though listeners may recognize Drew’s lyrics, he’s singing a different tune.
Fans of the original productions shouldn’t expect the same happy, sing-song melodies of a younger Never Shout Never because as Drew’s matured, so has his sound. The songs are still his style, but they’re different.
Not only have the songs been altered, but there’s a noticeable mix of styles throughout the album’s entirety. Some are eerie, some are upbeat and some are even a little twangy. Regardless of style, each track also feels richer and less acoustic.
“Recycled Youth” opens with the new version of “On the Brightside,” originally from “The Summer EP.” What was once a simple melody accompanied by strumming now harbors a vibe that feels almost cinematic. The rendition was an interesting choice, but, by far, a good one.
Another song that underwent a drastic change is “Sweet Perfection.” The original fast-paced song is slowed down some, producing an unusual country sound — there’s even a little banjo featured in there.
Listeners should make a point to also listen to “Black Hole (Liar Liar),” “Robot” and “Lost at Sea” to fully understand the diversity of the recycled album, but every decent album has its weaknesses.
“Sacrilegious,” for example, begins with a mesmerizing chorus of “oohs,” and it sounds promising, but the remainder of the song is flat. It fails to hit a high point. This is the same for “Here Goes Nothing” — it’s one synthesized verse after the next.
It’s almost as if the right idea for these two tracks was there, but the band never quite followed through, which will leave the listener disappointed. The strength of the album’s other songs makes these two fail in comparison.
It’s easy to tell the band had a good time remastering these songs and experimenting with new sounds. The album’s variety hints at what Never Shout Never has to offer in the future, even if it is just old songs with a twist.
Listening to “Recycled Youth” may strike a familiar chord with listeners, but it feels brand new. Nine songs and about 36 minutes later and fans should be pleased with their Never Shout Never experience, and points to the band for its creative approach.
The album’s richness may also be thanks to the recent and official addition of a steady band, instead of Drew’s relatively solo approach in the past.
It’s not often an artist revisits old material and changes the dynamic of songs which established the band, but if this is the result, it may not be such a bad idea. And “Vol. One” can only mean one thing — Drew must not be finished recycling his sound just yet.