Album Review – Young Knives: Barbarians

Young Knives – Barbarians

After a seven year absence, Young Knives return with a new album that feels dark, confrontational and a world away from their early troubled meeting with the parents in She’s Attracted To, although the simplistic but heartfelt opening line on Weekends and Bleak Days of ‘Hot Summer, what a bummer’ remains a valid statement of fact in my eyes.

Back in the present day, Barbarians takes much of its inspiration from John Gray’s provocatively nihilistic Straw Dogs, a book that effectively questions the human role in humanity. Taking this standpoint with all that is happening in the world right now, it becomes easier to understand the amplified vigour and aggression of Young Knives’ new sound.

Kicking off with the appropriately named Swarm, things surge straight into a wall of electronic noise and robotic oration. Follow up track Society for Cutting up Men (SCUM) implores, ‘Explain yourself to a live studio audience’, reflecting the need for people to feel seen, heard and validated in today’s society rather than to just do what’s best. Throughout the album, the inflections of psych synths and pounding drum machines ensure that this is a piece of work you need to sit up and pay attention to. There are moments of undeniably PIL-esque rage, in fact ‘Anger is an energy’ might just be the perfect way to describe Barbarians. I get the sense though that this will not end in a butter advert.

Both the title track and recent single Sheep Tick are stand outs, unsettling but arresting in their contention. The album finishes with What I Saw, a fitting close to what, after repeated listens, sounds increasingly like a concept album for the forgotten, dystopian dance-beats for the dissidents. Take a listen and be prepared to hear Young Knives like you never heard them before. 

Barbarians is released on 4th September via Gadzook, you can pre-order the album in various formats with some limited edition options here. Watch the video for Sheep Tick below.

Review by Siobhan 

28th August 2020