Brighton newcomers Youth Sector might be awfully caught up in grown-up everyday frustrations like house prices (argh), renting (argh), and 'social' 'situations' (what are those?) on their new 'Mundanity' EP, but it also contains some of their most fun tracks thus far - four proper bops that'll make you really wish you could be back at gigs, sticky floors, overpriced pints 'n' all. To celebrate the EP's release, frontman Nick Tompkins has talked us through it from front to back, track by track.
This was probably the most collaborative song we've ever written in that all five of us when we lived together in Brighton, were sat in my room trying to write something. We worked off a guitar riff idea of Brad's which we liked the rhythm of but not the notes, and we brought in the notes of one of my recently ditched ideas, where we liked the notes but nothing else - zero-waste songwriting! The lead riff came about then and there too, as did the bass, although both were developed a bit over time.
I think it's pretty unanimous that this is the most fun song to play at gigs (RIP) that we've written so far. It really energises the audience, and it's so fast and loud that we can totally let loose on stage.
I had the lyric "compromises, compromises / look at all the housing prices / watch as all the water rises" on my notes for a while (think I wrote it while trying to go to sleep), and later came up with the 8-bit synth line, and just set about trying to meld the two together. We've all moved house once maybe twice a year since going to university, so we'd had years of dealing with letting agents and trying to afford rent for houses that were crumbling around us, so this one was just an ode to those nightmarish times, which are still part of our lives, unfortunately.
This song is a big reason the EP is called 'Mundanity' - while all of the EP songs tackle themes of mundanity, this song, in particular, is based around very real and very immediate thoughts and feelings that crop up within very dull settings such as work, looking for housing or everyday social situations. The songs on the EP are a documentation of the stage we are at in our lives as we grapple with the tedium of young adult life. This is reflected in the artwork for which we collaborated with Storm Studios, where you can see these bright boxes contrasting the monochrome, suburban backdrop.
This is the song that almost broke me in the studio. We were on day three of recording and day two of almost solid vocal recording, and I was already very fatigued from so much singing. It was really tearing my voice up to get those big "hands!" shouts in the chorus, and to do it take after take was like some kind of mad torture. We've worked with Theo Verney on all of our releases though so he knows how particular we are with getting the right take and how hard to push us for it. I was getting so frustrated that Theo and Tom (engineer and all-round lovely man) insisted I have a sit down with a lemon and ginger, and it really did the job. So the shouty bit in the outro is the result of some real physical and emotional turmoil.
This tune really takes the reins off Josh though, who you'll hear going absolutely wild on the bass throughout, bringing in some strong funk influences, which has gone on to inform some of our new material.
This one is unusual in that it's very rare I'll ever revisit an old song that's previously been abandoned partway through development - I suppose in a childlike way I am always drawn to 'new' things. This song began from a drumbeat that Karl, our drummer at the time, had sent me; we had the guitar and bass written as it is now, but I had this vocal which went on forever and ever until I wrote myself into a corner and gave up, although I still loved the instrumental.
Fast forward a few months, and we're in the process of signing to Young Poet to release an EP (this one of course), and they ask to hear what other songs we've got in development at a time when we don't have anything much that's ready to present, which is unusual for us. In order to have something decent to show, I turn to the old idea as a lifeline and scramble to get something good out of it within about 24 hours as they're literally waiting for a reply from us. I get the verse together and send it off, and they like it, and so we ended up finishing it and sticking it on the EP.
A lot of our songs have quite a bleak meaning behind them and/or are quite playful/abstract in their delivery. This one, however, is quite direct, it's optimistic and looser in its meaning. It's about being cautiously optimistic that good times might be on the way, that feeling of a weight beginning to lift. It's my favourite song on the EP.
Youth Sector's new 'Mundanity' EP is out now.