Hype can be a curious thing. For a new artist struggling to get heard above the clamour of a music scene saturated with hopeful wannabes, it can be a godsend. On the flip side, it can strangle a new act at birth, the weight of expectation too much to bear at a stage when the artist has had little time to grow.
Ultimately, hype will bear fruit for those who have the requisite talent to back it up and crush those who don't. There are many exceptions to the rule but we are pretty unforgiving of musicians that surf in on a wave of hype if the music turns out to be an empty promise.
William Doyle aka East India Youth is currently garnering rabidly favourable reviews for his debut album Total Strife Forever. Music journalists and online bloggers are falling over themselves in the rush to declare his genius, showering the album with the kind of lavish praise usually reserved for the anointed few.
On this occasion, you can believe the hype - Total Strife Forever marks the arrival of a prodigious and precocious talent. The Bournemouth born electronic composer has fashioned a remarkably confident debut, a genre hopping record that blends elements of Pop, R & B, Ambient, Indie, Electronica and Shoegaze to produce something that could have been an incoherent mess but turns out to be anything but.
Doyle is a sonic alchemist, magically combining and fusing different styles to create something that is greater than the sum of its parts. Some have lazily labelled him the 'new James Blake' but in reality, the music he makes is light years away from the more minimalist approach of Blake.
Dazzling instrumental 'Glitter Recession' opens the album, its tumbling arpeggio piano chords and subtly shifting backdrop of electronic noise bleeding into 'Total Strife Forever I', the first of a four piece suite of songs that forms the backbone of the album. This is the more inaccessible side of East India Youth but also the more daring, creative and exciting. Just when you think the album is heading in a more experimental direction, Doyle throws in the first of four tracks to feature vocals – 'Dripping Down' is poppy, melodic and bears a passing resemblance to Ben Gibbard's Postal Service project.
'Hinterland' shifts gears and we are off riding a Trance/House/Techno beat – it should jar coming so soon after its poppier predecessor, but somehow it works, all part of the wildly exhilarating sonic stew created by Doyle.
From there on in, it continues to captivate; the pop brilliance and choral grandeur of 'Heaven How Long' and 'Song For a Granular Piano' counterbalanced by the sparse, loneliness of the Total Strife Forever suite.
The album fades and dies in a haze of static, a space age symphony of otherworldly noises and decay. Total Strife Forever is a glorious collision of musical ideas and styles and pop music's most daringly creative statement of 2014 to date.
Review by Paul Page