Track listing: The Young Machines, Something To Do with My Hands, Tech Romance, Sleepy California, Japanese Gum, Meet the Pressure, My Girlfriend's Boyfriend, The Luxury of Loneliness, Girl Problem, From South CarolinaBereft of alternate descriptors, The Young Machines brings about a heartfelt "Goddamn!" Blasphemy, brought forth solely by admiration of how lyrics can consistently hit emotional nails square on the head. Her Space Holiday founder Marc Bianchi displays an uncanny ability to capture in words the emotions we all feel but often have trouble articulating (or maybe it's just me).
The album ruminates on post-break-up nostalgia but offers enough variation to keep it from becoming a soundtrack for the hopelessly co-dependent (several of the songs would actually fit nicely tracked into Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind). Instrumentally, The Young Machines combines snap-tight programming with dreamy keyboard arrangements—a scenic sonic backdrop for the aforementioned super-connective lyrics—a display of musicianship impressive in its seamless intertwining of tracks and melodic counterpoint.
"My Girlfriend's Boyfriend" muses "you can't make someone love you with a song." How many innocent cassette tapes' lives throughout the 80's would've been spared from becoming Songs for My Love-type ballad compilations if angst-ridden youths understood this simple mantra? Chicago 17 might not have sold a single copy. Bianchi understands, though, and is gracious enough to share his pain-begotten insight. The song drones along, but even in its repetition its hookless form contains as much off-the-beaten-path hit potential as Suzanne Vega's "Tom's Diner." The hook in both being the entire song, a looped beat and a continuous entrancing melody. Both contain nary a trace of the traditional catch-phrase-in-the-chorus so nearly omnipresent throughout the history of the Top 40. In such monotony lies its difference.
How many songwriters bounce around thoughts like, "I put my headphones on and hear your favorite songs, and it kills me to know this won't be one of them"? Well, just about every one of them. Such is the psyche of many a songwriter: downtrodden, sappy, pissed off, sad, deceitful, vengeful, sleazy, self-pitying, over-sensitive. But Bianchi goes to the source and conveys his message outright and crystal clear...which is where many of his contemporaries fail. It is a tall order to speak one's mind while maintaining some semblance of artistic ingenuity.
Variations to The Young Machines' subject matter come by way of "Sleepy California" and "Meet the Pressure." Respectively, there is the inner conflict of guilt and sadness felt by not going to see a terminally ill grandmother for the last time, which is about as heavy feeling of guilt as one can conjure. Then to vindictiveness...who wouldn't want to sleep with an insipid critic's significant other? Revenge can be so intimately sweet.
So there's no need to feel pity for Bianchi as he pleads to 'her' through these songs. He has moved on, encapsulated the negative into something positive and wonderful. He expresses beautifully the things that make us all sad-we get sad. We mope. Her Space Holiday puts out an excellent album. But it is complete understanding of the verbal message that moves this album from the ranks of anonymous super-produced techno-drone albums into the front sleeves of our CD wallets. The Young Machines is an album to leave in your CD changer. It may remind us of the doldrums, but demonstrates with its beauty how to transcend them and create something positive. Let it invigorate your mind so that you too may find the gumption to sleep with an adversary's girlfriend.