The late 1970s was a time where the riveting sound of raucous guitars amongst politically driven anti-culture and anti-government lyrics took a strong lead of the rock industry, however, there was also a new wave of music was lurking within the shadows during this era. This new wave of music would create a lifestyle that would be the forefront of the isolated youth for years to come.
Post-punk, also known as new wave, is a genre of music that stole the attention of many anti-culture youths looking to rebel against the norm. Inspired by the DIY and avant-garde energy originating in punk music, post-punk stripped back the boisterous charge within punk music and embellished dreamy-psychedelic characteristics that made this dark and mysterious sound millions of people have come to love.
(check out my full breakdown of new-wave/goth music)
By the 1980s the gothic post-punk scene left its bat caves and, ironically, became the staple of youth culture within this time in history. However, much like today, trends would only last so long, thus once the 90s and iconic Seattle grunge rolled around, post-punk reclused back into their shadows and once again became reserved to those against societal norms.
Modern post-punk, like many genres, has the tendency to become oversaturated with replicas and copycats, resulting in the loss of the authenticity that is needed. But thankfully with some effort and research, you can still find authentic musicians, like this recent obsession of mine, Isolated Youth, that soundly capture the tone the genre was built on.
Isolated Youth is a four-piece band from Northern parts of Stockholm, Sweden. The band consists of two brothers Axel (voice, guitar, synth) and William Mårdberg (guitar), as well as long time friends Westberg Larsson (bass) and Andreas Geidemark (drums).
In their three years together, the band has released two EPs: Warefare (2019) and Iris (2020). Both EPs delightfully execute the darker ambience of post-punk, all the while carrying a light psychedelic feel through the androgynous tones of singer, Axel Mårdberg.
The music of Isolated Youth presents this beautiful dichotomy of light and dark, both in terms of their instrumental vibe and lyrical writings. It is this striking contrast that initially, and instantly, captured my attention to this band.
When I listen to post-punk, it’s usually because of this need to be embraced by the atmospheric sombre resonances that they tend to administer. The music of Isolated Youth satisfies the classic brooding emotion that is needed in new-wave music, but with the contrasting delicacy of Axel‘s voice, their music also comforts you in a way most post-punk music doesn’t.
It’s almost a shame that all we have to listen to, so far, is roughly ten tracks split within two EPs, nonetheless, they are two EPs that I have been gluttonously listening to and excited to share with all of you.
The first piece of music by the group that I listened to is their first EP Warefare (2019), recommended to me by my big brother Rob who knows my love of anything hailing from Sweden (thanks Rob). This EP opens with the song Oath, which has this strong tribal-like drumming that I think was a strong choice for not only an opening track but for their sound in general. It gives a darker more intimidating essence than what you would find in your typical post-punk song — it reminds me a lot of the drums played in The Cure‘s “Hanging Garden“.
In an interview with Threshold Magazine, guitarist William Mårdberg told the interviewer that the general theme of the EP Warfare (2019) is “like spiritual warfare, a call to arms. How do I put it? Wanting to protect your close ones in a quite harsh world“. Hence the strong opening in the song Oath that could be compared to a call-to-arms chant. Moreover, the haunting instrumentals woven within the cry-like vocals of Axel throughout the entire EP has this lasting effect that emanates this warfare-esque feeling very well.
The listening experience of Warefare (2019) is extraordinarily powerful. It’s not only melodic and dare I say.. catchy, but I can feel the emotions of the entire band. It takes you on a sentimental journey, and during this time of emotional turmoil due to the global pandemic, I sought a lot of comfort in it.
Soon after the fairly successful release of their debut EP, the Swedish quartet released their second EP Iris in March of 2020.
By this time Isolated Youth had garnered the attention of many in the post-punk scene due to their mature approach to writing music, despite their young age. Although to almost anyone with a properly functioning brain, the age range of a musical group does not and should matter, however, for whatever reason, it has been the focal point of these Swedes.
When discussing my excitement for this band with many of my Swedish friends, some in post-punk groups themselves, I was instantly struck with condescending comments in regards to the band’s age, and their need for apparent growth. Confused with their reaction, I decided to get the opinion of the good ol’ internet reviews, and I found that these opinions were often brought up in articles discussing the band, even when praising them.
Still, contrary to these ‘popular opinions’, I find that Iris (2020) is not only another brilliant collection of introspective music by the young lads, it’s also strong evidence that the band is growing and using their new-found-fame to evolve as artists.
Iris (2020) opens with the track of the same name, which immediately conveys a much different tone than their first EP. The song Iris starts with a much lighter and open sound, although it still has the brooding drums by Andreas Geidemark, the overall mood is much more vulnerable and light.
A favourite track of mine on this EP is “Ferris Wheel“, it’s a song that genuinely haunts me and is what pushed me to share this band with you all. The first time I heard it I had to collect myself because, not to sound like a total stoner, but the vibes of the song are striking. The song takes you on a journey of pure raw emotion. The way it opens with a light guitar then forms into this strong drum beat that storms into your chest, then we’re feverishly thrown into these raw cries of Axel Mårdberg, it’s immaculate.
The chorus of this song never fails to put a lump in my throat, it radiates pure honesty and raw emotion.
People use the band’s age as a leverage to put them down, but, I find that it’s their youthful approach that makes them so special. Had they been older, more jaded and afraid to be this bold and honest, their music would lose their special touch.
Isolated Youth blend their young angst with a mature comprehension of music composition and emotional intelligence to create some of the most beautiful music I’ve heard in a long time. Both Warefare (2019) and Iris (2020) are what the underground music scene needs right now, and I can’t wait to see what else they bring to the table.
Until next time Interwebs! 🕸
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