The Like Young Art Contest

[Parasol; 2003]

Styles: pop-rock with just a pinch o’ punk-lite
Others: Mates Of State, The Delgados, The Thermals, Rilo Kiley, Paula Carino

Have you been searching for that perfect mix between Pink Flag-era Wire and the Everly Brothers but didn’t know where to find it (or even where to look)? Well, search no more. The Like Young are Joe and Amanda Ziemba, a husband-and-wife team dedicated to the project of “stripping away the fat” and “heading into the basement together and rocking out.” Joe handles most of the guitar and vocals, while Amanda sits behind her drum kit and adds the high-pitched, disaffected female backing vocals endemic in indie rock these days. The sound is indeed stripped down, only augmented on rare occasions by synths. The songs are also marked by their brevity; Art Contest packs 11 songs into 24:07, making for a startlingly quick blast of half-melodic, half-droning garage-pop.

I’ve cooled toward this album since the first few listens. My initial excitement at the disc’s direct, raw feel dissipated as each individual song failed to distinguish itself. “Nice People” has a gripping opening riff (unfortunately not carried through the song itself), “Looked Up” is an edgy update of the early British Invasion sound, and “The Babes” is a little more muscular than the rest of the album. But I haven’t found myself humming any of these three on the subway, or singing them to myself at work. And I can’t help but think that the album’s short length, originally signaling (to me) a refreshing lack of pretension, ultimately works against it. You just can’t sink your teeth into Art Contest — it’s over before you’ve swallowed the first bite, or even begun chewing in earnest.

1. Expensive Tastes
2. Even If It's Getting Late
3. Nice People
4. Looked Up
5. Snobs and Slobs
6. I'm Old Fashioned
7. Leather Jackets
8. The Babes
9. My Problem
10. If Things Loosen Up
11. Be Honest with You

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