Music

Young Marble Giants’ Colossal Youth and Collected Works

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As Young Marble Giants’ “Searching for Mr. Right” begins, a mocking tick-tock is suddenly pulled through a phasing effect—the result sounds a bit like a loo being flushed. Young Alison Statton calmly sings of another wasted evening, just a cigarette away from the graffiti guitar of Stuart Moxham and the richly burping bass of Philip Moxham. No drums. So goes Colossal Youth, first released in 1980, when the band’s innovative, outsider (Welsh, even) minimalism undercut both ways. They didn’t want “Credit in the Straight World,” or the hip world either! And yet they did, in their own way, and they got it from both spheres (like when Hole covered “Credit,” whoopee), but mostly by keeping their conflicts under just the right applications of pressure.

Thus, on the most extensive posthumous YMG set yet, Colossal Youth (the startling success of which quickly triggered the band’s breakup) gets its own disc, its own island. The salvage yard of disc two (including the Test Card EP, singles, compilation tracks, and Salad Days rarities) uses tiny, deadpan- exuberant instrumentals to pace and space stray traces of toupees and meals; even demos of now-familiar songs can startle in this context. Disc three is all Peel sessions, characteristically ending with “Brand New Life” and “Final Day”: Each story sees and raises the other.

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