Collarbones : Die Young
The second album from this Adelaide/Sydney duo is all about matters of the heart. Die Young is a more solid collection than 2011’s Iconography, the music rooted in an uncluttered, glitchy dubstep that gets a little warmth from some smoochy, R&B-heavy vocals. Marcus Whale’s soulful, sometimes desperate tales of young love and heartache dominate, with the exception of Soul Hologram, a two-minute instrumental bridge of ambient wash.
Behind all of the vocal gymnastics and ‘Say it ain’t so, boy’ attitude is a sinister slant on teenage crushes, with feelings of possession and obsession bleeding through on tracks like Missing, in which Whale coos ‘I’ll be so close/I could almost kill you.’ Travis Cook’s icy, clipped beats are in keeping with the lyrics’ deceptively sharp edge, culminating in the beautiful, sometimes brutal sound of two broken hearts beating as one. If you’re going to capture those emotion-fueled teenage years honestly, it has to be a bit pained, right?
If Whale and Cook’s first album proved that the duo gelled despite (or maybe even because of) their distance from each other, Die Young’s revelation is that they are even more potent when they then collaborate with those outside of the Collarbones club. Some of the album’s strongest tracks feature guests and are stacked at the start. The stunning Hypothermia has Guerre (Lavern Lee) cutting through trance beats and a top-form Whale cry with some atmospheric pitch-shifted vocals; its accompanying video clip is well worth the watch too, unless you are at risk of having seizures. On the title track, not to be confused with the new Ke$ha song of the same name, HTML Flowers (Grant Gronewold) contributes a slick rap to a woozy, minimalist ode to celebrity lives cut short.
But even after these key songs, Die Young continues to surprise and satisfy, with each of the ten tracks upping the ante on the sound established on the Collarbone’s fine debut. The key to the success of this invigorating release is that it embraces pop and accessibility to really connect to the listener, and it does so without losing any of the duo’s left-field appeal.
BY CHRIS GIRDLER
Best Track: Hypothermia
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In A Word: Infatuated