One of the less talked about bands in the British music scene, Youth Sector are turning the tide on what is perceived as pop rock. Local to Brighton, they have recently been demonstrating their talents and putting their name in people’s mouths by embarking on a killer tour, supporting the likes of The Kaiser Chiefs and COIN whilst completing a headline tour of their own, releasing their newest EP Quarrels, and even playing in Castles! I was lucky enough to chat with them in June ahead of their EP release show at the famous Prince Albert, a venue loved by many in Brighton.
Youth Sector has described their EP as a testament to previous works. Guitarist Brad characterised the project as containing “Elements of the sounds that we (Youth Sector) had in the last two EPs, but the scope is a bit broader, and every bit of it is just a bit better.” Bassist Josh doesn’t hesitate to point out that “This time we worked with a different producer, so it has a different kind of production style which helps it stand out from the others.” Youth Sector has a history of outlandish, artsy and charismatic production. Taking inspiration from Talking Heads, they are a pioneering effort to bring back the Avant-funk art rock that took the world by storm in the mid-60s.
What sets this EP apart lyrically is the thematic darkening that the band collectively agreed was more prominent as a result of their more mature approach to songwriting. This is reinforced in their track ‘Free Parking’, a satirical yet highly political take on capitalist downfalls, plasticity and flaws of everyday life. In the track, they open with a strong statement about the two-faced British public as a result of capitalist ideologies being embedded in their habitual routines: “These Plastic People are quick, they’re driving in their plastic cars, they need plastic permits.” The lead singer Nick describes “‘Free Parking’ and ‘Benign Fire in a Small Room’ as very insular and inward-thinking, whereas ‘The Ball’ and ‘Definitive Guide to Easy Living’ are much more outward-looking and dig into more political themes such as anti-homeless architecture and failures of the UK government.”
This highly political lyricism combined with upbeat, funky instrumentation puts into place an interesting juxtaposition. Brad adds that “funk has a higher overarching influence than other post-punk bands,” and their reasoning behind it is to again stand themselves out from more mainstream indie rock bands so people can hear their messages. I would argue Josh is the key pusher in this funk rock sound, and he elaborates on his Bass journey, stating “More bands should use the Bass as much as they can do, and shouldn’t be scared to explore it a bit more.” The Bass is a highly experimental instrument, with multiple new and interesting ways being found to play it.
Youth Sector is one of the more important bands in the indie grassroots scene in the entire UK at the moment. Their instrumentation is extremely retro and nostalgic which can appeal to older audiences as well as a newer, less attentive generation, whilst their lyrics are very timely and prominent in today’s political climate. Covering themes of anti-homeless architecture, covert capitalist control and governmental flaws such as how they handled Grenfell, they are not afraid to be outspoken but are incredibly smart in how they convey these messages.
I was lucky enough to see them live very recently at the Komedia Picturehouse and music venue in Brighton. They are not only extremely clever in their writing but are fantastic performers. It was a fresh blend of old classics, newer hits and future releases that kept casual and hardcore fans alike entertained. Frontman Nick had impeccable control of the crowd to the point he split the audience into three groups to sing different parts of his song for him. They are a team effort, as reinforced by their uniforms, and with approval from Rock ‘n’ Roll legend Elton John, calling the quintet “so energetic and I absolutely love their song” (about track ‘Teeth’) during his Rocket Hour for Apple Music, they really are ones to watch in the indie rock music scene.