Young Jesus, ‘The Whole Thing Is Just There’ – Review
by Rory Buccheri
Moving on from the energetic, punk-rock tunes and more digestible sounds of their previous album ‘S/T’, with ‘The Whole Thing is Just There’ Young Jesus invite us to undertake the musical equivalent of a slow yet demanding run in the woods.
While the record may only run for 6 tracks overall, it truly makes it worth it with its dynamic mixture of lyrical quality and pugnacious conversation-clash of instrumental bits. Every note following the initial shot of ‘Deterritory’ feels like a continuous backfire. We are encouraged to continue running, to keep the steady pace dictated by the bass and drums. The fractured, erratic heartbeats and dissonant thoughts of ‘Saganism vs. Buddhism’ seem to trace the geographical and emotional journey of the band, from the cradle of their first sounds in Chicago to the eccentric, sun-drenched and controversial shores of California. We savour this bittersweet taste of displacement from the very opener, ‘Deterritory’, amongst the undisputed highlights of this 48-minutes long album. From the feverish gait of the first songs, we move towards the soothing and reflective core tracks of the album, ‘For Nana’ being an outstanding example of jazz-like improvisation followed by a conversation, rather like a heated prayer, among the instruments.
The lyric ‘Gulf’, the lengthiest track of the album, marks the beginning of the end. The song’s initial energy is slowly poured into a central 10-minutes instrumental break that allows the listener to digest the whole album. This soft and steady dialogue of notes, however, is interrupted by a parenthesis of swaying words that stop our breath. The unharmonious cascade of words seems to give voice to doubts and smothering uncertainties. We are then lead towards the album’s epilogue as the opening line “Walking down the street / I can see the gulf’’ echoes. No previous fleeting doubt or uncertainty can break the surface of this final realisation, which elicits a feeling of a settlement, of safety, of reaching a final destination. A blank canvas, an open, wide space where, finally, we breathe again.