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James Younger: Feelin’ American

A blend of the bland and the brilliant on this patchy debut.

A young Mancunian expat now based in Vancouver, James Younger draws on vintage guitar-strumming Americana and the softer end of new wave on this accomplished but slightly anodyne solo debut.

On the standout tracks he sounds uncannily like a one-man-band version of The Strokes, from the choppy power-pop blast of lead-off single Monday Morning to the sweet slipstream riffs and double-tracked vocals of Quiet Life. There are also incongruous flashes when his half-buried northern English vowels and colloquial Anglo-centric references recall the Arctic Monkeys, especially on Sleeping Alone and What Comes After The Weekend.

But Younger’s penchant for mid-Atlantic, wind-in-the-hair soft rock sounds worryingly like a calculated commercial strategy. Two Of A Kind and Never Easy are monuments to blow-dried banality, occupying the middle of a very straight road with Tom Petty on one side and Bryan Adams on the other. If he indulges this vanilla tendency further, Younger could well become both hugely successful and arse-achingly dull.

Stephen Dalton has been writing about all things rock for more than 30 years, starting in the late Eighties at the New Musical Express (RIP) when it was still an annoyingly pompous analogue weekly paper printed on dead trees and sold in actual physical shops. For the last decade or so he has been a regular contributor to Classic Rock magazine. He has also written about music and film for Uncut, Vox, Prog, The Quietus, Electronic Sound, Rolling Stone, The Times, The London Evening Standard, Wallpaper, The Film Verdict, Sight and Sound, The Hollywood Reporter and others, including some even more disreputable publications.