Aberfeldy - Young Forever
Aberfeldy, are named after a quaint little town near Perth in Scotland that’s inundated with tourists in the summer of every year. Naming the band after the town means they must hold genuine affection for it. The band are a five piece from Edinburgh who have made a summery album filled with breezy musical delights for the ear.
Their music seems to be of the gentle, acoustic indie pop variety, with songs filled with violins, mandolins and glockenspiels. The band make extensive use of their acoustic instruments, creating a relaxed and natural feel to the songs. It’s the sort of album that demands to be listened to fully from start to finish a few times in order to appreciate it.
Aberfeldy sound quite twee when you listen to them but then so do Belle & Sebastian, another band that make songs of this type and who they sound quite similar to. The songs are all very good with no filler amongst them. When you first listen to 'Young Forever', it takes you on a nice journey, evoking many images of what it must be like to live in a small town in the summer, sitting under the bright summer sky by the campfire, toasting marshmallows.
The similarities with Belle & Sebastian are there due to both bands making the same kind of soft, warm and tranquil music. This gives you an idea of what to expect as after the first few songs, this is as about as wild as it’s going to get. 'Young Forever' has twelve slow, beguiling songs with boy\girl harmonies and some excellent instrumentation to complement them. Every track seems to have the same rich musical texture and dreamy soundscapes with the production stripped down purposefully to let the instruments take pride of place. Interestingly, the organic sound of the record is down to the unusual recording technique used by the producer Jim Sutherland. The record was recorded in mono with the whole band gathered around just one mic in one room, which harks back to the way Sinatra, Elvis and other artists from around fifty years ago, recorded their albums.
The poignant singing on 'Young Forever' is led by the main vocalist, Riley Briggs and is backed with some neat female backing vocals that complement his voice superbly. This is evident on the second track ‘Slow Me Down’ which is also one of the highlights, as is the third track ‘Love Is An Arrow’ which comes replete with some lovely violin and mandolin work. ‘Love Is An Arrow’ seems to be the most polished track on ‘Young Forever’, production wise. ‘Summer’s Gone’ sounds like a playful, tongue ‘n’ cheek nursery rhyme with some of the most cheerful music on the album. There are lots of acoustic instruments in the mix that decorate the songs with subtle catchy melodies that form the heart of 'Young Forever'.
Current single ‘Heliopolis By Night’ is a song about a spaceship and has some of the band members singing in a nasal tone of voice impersonating the aliens that are going to come and abduct you, which makes for a humorous interlude that adds a certain charm to the album as a whole. The keyboard based ‘Something I Must Tell You’ is one of the finer tracks on the album sounding reminiscent of Belle & Sebastian’s ‘Electronic Renaissance’ on their ‘Tigermilk’ record.
The majority of the songs apart from this one do sound quite similar but any album that has such a refreshing identity in terms of it’s instrumentation, production and theme is certainly worth a purchase as it will give you many enjoyable listens. Whether or not the band has it in them to match Belle & Sebastian’s output is another thing, but it’s early days for Aberfeldy and on the strength of this debut, it’s a valiant attempt and in it’s own way, is quite an uplifting album. Aberfeldy are a band with great potential and I’m looking forward to hearing more from them in the hopefully, not too distant future.
Photograph taken by Jim Sutherland. Reproduced with kind permission.