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Music Reviews

Screaming Females - Castle Talk
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Castle Talk
Don Giovanni
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The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
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Sub Pop
Robyn - Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
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The Walkmen - Lisbon
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Fat Possum
The Like Young
Last Secrets

Rating: 8.5/10 ?

April 7, 2006
On Last Secrets, album number three for married couple Joe and Amanda Ziemba, the Like Young toil away busting out some fast paced pop. One of the best parts about the group remains unchanged on this album: the balance between Joe's sorta snotty rock and roll croon and Amanda's sugar sweet vocals. The first difference between this release and the Like Young's past albums is that the songs are longer; Last Secrets adds a good 10 minutes over the average length of the first two albums, while keeping the number of tracks basically the same. Longer songs means less abrupt 2 minute song blasts, and more restraint with songs that build and even make use of some damn synthesizer interludes ("Obviously Desperate"). Still, even with all that new album space to fill, the duo avoided throwing filler in to beef up the album, and that deserves a nod in and of itself.

The change in the Ziembas' average song length can be attributed to the pair's embrace of a more versatile rock sound. Overall the pair still fall under the loose classification of power pop, but a song like "Writhe Like You Mean It", with Amanda's haunting vocals, ventures damn close to the realms of post-rock. Luckily for us change isn't a bad thing - Writhe Like You Mean It" ends up as one of the best songs the group has ever done, because it builds slowly to the payoff vocal interplay between the duo as the guitar and melodic keys kick in.

This is the first album the group has released on Polyvinyl Records (although the Ziembas have been kicking around with the PRC crew since their days in Wolfie) and the pop pair come into the fold just as another hyperactive married duo, Mates of State, exit for Barsuk's pastures. If there are comparisons made - and there almost certainly will be - between the two groups you can go ahead and dismiss it as bullshit. Beyond the superficial connections of wedlock, keyboards and label, The Like Young has always opted for bona-fide rock over the cutesy stylings of the San Franciscan couple. While we see some stretching of the group's range, at the core of even most of the longer songs on Last Secrets are the group's trademark blasts of hooky, distorted guitar, like those that burst through the great "For Money or Love" and the album's closer, "Inner Fantasies".

In spite of the near Pavlovian pull to emit reaction of displeasure, fans of melodic rock should find it exceedingly difficult to dislike the Like Young. They have an excellent knack for balance, and not just between vocal styles but also in delivering a solid mix of aggression and melody. And as Last Secrets proves, the Like Young have struck a balance between tending to the impulses of experimentation and growth and and staying true to the their power pop strengths. This album is not only the Like Young's most diverse, is also its best.

Reviewed by Dan Williams
A staff writer based in Brooklyn, New York, Dan Williams is a frequent contributor to LAS magazine. He once lived in Köln, Germany for a semester, is currently persuing his MBA in New York, and recently switched sides and began working as a publicist for Special Ops Media in New York.

See other reviews by Dan Williams



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