Inching their way to its release via a series of beautifully crafted EPs and videos, there is perhaps still a concern how much more of themselves Young Wonder have to reveal on their debut album, how the duo would be able to stretch their initial concept over a longer setting. The answer seems to have been simple – take time, take care and the rest will follow. In truth, the success of Birth is down to no mysterious forces or trickery. The songs included here (plus intro / outro pieces) are nothing less than magnificent, ten pieces of music that could have been stripped down to the barest minimum and still would have impressed. Which is not to say that Young Wonder have overcompensated and thrown the studio kitchen sink at the material, instead creating a work that ebbs and flows beautifully.
And that is the feeling that Birth leaves you with above all others, beauty. Ian Ring has created music of rare emotional impact, all while staying true to their original electronic vision. Beats, basslines and samples drop in and out, all used in a manner that constantly sidesteps cliche and is constantly inventive – who’d have expected a Kanye still turn from New York emcee Marcè Reazon on ‘Hear Our Cries’? – and further cements his position as one of the most talented producers in the country.
All of which is only half the story of course, for it is Rachel Koeman who lifts the album to another level all together. While she may have been pegged by some as just another quirky vocalist in a funny hat, her performance here is staggering. Mirroring the music’s path, she moves through the emotional scope of the record with ease – hitting those trademark high notes but also demonstrating a resonating lower range. Her lyrics too dip elegantly into affairs of the heart, leading to what is almost an electronic companion piece to Ham Sandwich’s Stories From The Surface.
Cherry picking only the very best of their previous work (‘Time’, ‘To You’), the likes of ‘Intergalactic’, ‘Enchanted’ and the expansive title track demonstrate just how far the pair have come. Practically perfect in every way, Young Wonder have created a record that introduces them to the wider world in true style. Watch them grow with pride.