North Carolina’s Gray Young are an aptly named band. Their music is a little bleak, quite moody, and there’s a general gray tone to it. But at the same time, they’re clearly in the young, indie mode–songs with large, dramatic swells and long intros. Then again, taking a while to warm up is kind of an “old” thing–just ask a gray-haired granddaddy. Plus, their sophomore album, Staysail, seems like a record that could appeal to young or old audiences. This is contemplative rock and roll, not music designed to piss off parents. It’s hard to say what the songs are about because much it feels quite abstract, but if it’s about alienation, the album doesn’t put its message out aggressively.
There are moments on the album that are quite good–a few are even fantastic. The instrumental “Seven: Fourteen” is intricate and engaging–it will put you into a trance. There are several songs like this on the record–places where the listener is completely immersed in their sound. The problem with the record is that there aren’t enough songs that pull you in right away. The first three songs on the record feel like intros–long intros–that never go anywhere. The band are at their best when they dive right in. Even on their simpler tunes, like prescience, you can here the talent immediately. The single, Vermilion, is another keeper. There’s a lot of very great, atmospheric stuff here, guys, just get to it–intros are for artists who need to build mood. But every song on Staysail is about mood, and the band’s talented musicianship develops it instantly. Gray Young needs to understand that they are more than good enough to just get to the point.