It seems that more and more, husband and wife musical tandems are becoming the popular route to travel. I’ll spare you the task of naming off some of the more notable ones, but the fact is that the trend produces more poor products than good ones, with acts like Polyvinyl’s the Like Young serving as the exception rather than the rule.
The bright, cohesive vocal melodies and dissonant guitar work on Last Secrets are indicative of a pair of individuals that are very comfortable working with each other, husband and wife or not. One would have a hard time telling that Joe and Amanda Ziemba are happily married, however, as the lyrics hardly paint a rosy picture, focusing rather on an intense feeling of longing and the aspirations to belong to something. They’re able to parlay this in a musically mature fashion, however, without ever coming off as whiny or depressed.
The rhythms help with this, as the generally upbeat guitar and drum combination is vibrant and alive in each of the thirteen songs on the record, the exception being the morose, piano-driven instrumental opener, “The Hell With This Whole Affair.” Picking up rather quickly is “For Money or Love.”
A short song with a very bouncy rhythm, and great male-female trade off vocals, it’s the epitome of how fun this record can really be when you do nothing but sit back and let the generally good-natured sound of the music soak right in. My only point of contention here, or on the record at all for that matter, is some of the synth use that Joe incorporates. It’s not that it really detracts from the music at all, but it artistically brings so little to the table that it might as well be left out. Moot point though I suppose, because the highlight of this record is continually the interplay between Joe and Amanda, as no matter the pace of the song, they coalesce effortlessly to make each song another indie pop gem. Just as inconsequential as pace, is the length of the songs. Most hover somewhere in between two or three minutes, but “Obviously Desperate” does go on to push the five-minute mark, without even a hint at growing tired, instead treading along its mostly instrumental path.
A rather delightful, albeit simplistic effort from the Like Young, but one who’s subtle elements are enough to keep a vested interest in the record for many listens to come. The husband and wife tandem may be a trend that’s produced more bad than good, but this record is an indication that every once in a while, a rose really does sprout from concrete.