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Growing Seeds
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  • Recording information: Malm” (01/2012).
  • Swedish electro-pop act Lust for Youth is the work of solo musician Hannes Norrvide, and with second proper full-length Growing Seeds, the project has grown into an all-encompassing atmosphere of dark sounds and struggling emotions. The caustic synth-pop Lust for Youth spins definitely fits in with the darkwave circles of the late 2000s and early 2010s, calling on the same remnants of early-'80s synth-wave cassette releases that inspired the minimal harshness of Xeno & Oaklander, Led Er Est, and the whole Minimal Wave records roster. At first blush, the songs all drift by with an almost interchangeable set of key elements: cheap-sounding keyboards, drum machines so drenched in static and corrosion that their sounds border on noise, and pained vocals drenched in Throbbing Gristle delay but still drowning beneath the din. The 13 tracks on Growing Seeds have a tendency to blur together, all shakily held in place by Norrvide's tormented vocal bleats, always lost beneath icy waves of thin keyboard sounds. Taken song by song, the tracks are fine, if unremarkable. None of the songs are audacious enough to command attention with hooks or any discernible statements. "Modern Life" comes close, with a melodic synth loop and distant, gothy vocals repeating while hissy synth sounds slowly take over. "We Planted a Seed" goes the opposite way, coating itself so thickly in heavy static that the song sounds completely obscured. The staying power of the album comes not in the strengths of the individual tracks, but more in the meditative nature it takes on as a whole and the lasting sonic impressions it makes. There are a few mild standouts such as the fluttering pulse of "Neon Lights Appear" or the nauseous arpeggios of "Cover Their Faces," but their grizzly tones and repetitive themes don't seem intended to stand out. Much like the Cure's amorphous early albums like Pornography or Seventeen Seconds, Growing Seeds is a transporting collection of obscured sounds and difficult, unfinished emotions rather than a string of memorable hit singles. This is the rare type of record that requires less focus and repeat listens to really zone in on what makes its off-ish sounds so attractive. Many listeners won't have the patience to sit it out, but the album has a surprising ability to draw one into its cavernous rooms and pitch black fields of noise. ~ Fred Thomas
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