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young and sexy


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"All Music Guide Review of Life through one Speaker"

by Tim Sendra

Lots of people make adult pop these days; precious few do it as well as Young and Sexy. Hailing from the dead center of the indie pop world in 2003, the Vancouver band follows up its remarkable debut, 2002's Stand Up for Your Mother, with an album that is remarkably just as good. Life Through One Speaker is everything the first album was (intelligent, catchy, emotional, inventive) and then some (epic, beautiful). The band sounds more at ease in the studio, and as a result the songs sound more relaxed and fuller. The extra coat of professional studio gloss that might sink most indie pop bands seems to suit them quite nicely. The band sounds like a classic mid-'80s pop group (Prefab Sprout, Beautiful South), only without the cheesy '80s technology getting in the way. While the record lacks a killer single, it sports exquisite songcraft and performances from the opening notes of the stately "Oh My Love" to the fade of the sweet self-referential ballad "Young & Sexy." Lucy Brain's sweet, clear vocals are more prominent on Life; she takes most of the leads, leaving Paul Hixon Pittman's flat, cynical vocals to be spice to her sugar. She is especially wonderful on the ballads "Lose Control" and the surprisingly political "More Than I Can Say." Best of all are her offhandedly beautiful then all-out rocking vocals on the disco-fied then rocked-out "One False Move." Listing all the highlights of an album this good would take far too many words but a few tunes stand out: the crashing epic "In This Atmosphere" (which Pittman helms with style), the previously mentioned "One False Move," and the twisting "Herculean Bellboy" (which is the track on the album that sounds the most "Vancouver"). Simply put, this is a great record, destined to be on year-end best-of lists, sure to be traded back and forth between love-struck friends, certain to be ignored by the masses. Oh heck, stop reading about it and just go buy it. You'll be glad you did. - **** 1/2

"Pop Matters Review of Life through one Speaker"

Life Through One Speaker
US release date: 21 October 2003
UK release date: Available as import
by Adrien Begrand

Vancouver band Young and Sexy's new album, Life Through One Speaker, gets off to such a disjointed, clunky start that you're immediately taken aback by how strange it sounds. The beginning of "Oh My Love" is incredibly awkward, like two kids knocking their teeth together when they nervously try to kiss. It's a strange, homely way to start an album: an insistently strummed acoustic guitar, haphazardly punctuated after one bar by snare and piano. But then that organ comes in, with its sustained note, settling things down, as the band sounds like they've decided to start over, the bass gently thrumming, toms being thudded with more subtlety than exhibited in that ugly intro. Then a bewitching female voice comes in, and the guitar re-enters, building up to a chorus that would make the angels weep, nothing but overdubbed harmony vocals singing "Oh, my love," over and over again, the drums providing an urgent, insistent beat, like the racing pulses of those two kids, who have finally figured out how to get it right, before segueing into an ethereal coda in its last minute and a half. One of the prettiest, most superbly crafted love songs of the year, it comes in from out of nowhere and bowls you over.

2003 has been an astonishingly strong year for Canadian indie rock. Hot Hot Heat, Broken Social Scene, and Manitoba have led the way in hipster circles, garnering plenty of attention south of the border, but it doesn't end there. The New Pornographers, Tangiers, the Dears, the Constantines, the Stills, and the Buttless Chaps have all put out notable albums in recent months, in what has to be regarded as a real renaissance, proving beyond a shadow of a doubt that most of the best Canadian music acts all work outside the major label system (okay, Hot Hot Heat are now on a big label). It's young and sexy, though, with their facetious, lowercase moniker, and their relaxed, breezy brand of twee pop, who really emerge as one of the best bands their country has to offer.

Young and Sexy have toured with the New Pornographers in the past, but unlike their fellow Vancouverites, who go for instant pop gratification each time, young and sexy opt for the slow simmer instead. They don't wave the pop hooks around like five-year-olds with sparklers; they let the hooks burn more subtly. Life Through One Speaker is more understated (it was co-produced by Dave Carswell and New Pornographers bassist John Collins), with the focus on organ and electric piano, as singers Lucy Brain and Paul Hixon Pittman alternate lead vocals, their sumptuous give-and-take sounding absolutely seductive. Nowhere does this vocal pairing work better than on the languid "Weekend Warriors", as Pittman and Brain sing sympathetically about being caught between teen life and adulthood ("You're old and bitter, just out of your teens / But you're out of dreams / A diamond is too soft to cut through to your heart"), as the song climaxes in a warm tidal wave of soaring vocal harmonies.

It's not all introspective melodrama on this album, and the band prove they can easily pull off louder, more upbeat pop rock. "Herculean Bellboy" is a straight Cars tribute, with its irresistible synth line, and the charming lyrics about a lonely male hipster protagonist ("He likes the rock and roll sounds of anything pre-1984 / He turns the MTV on and questions the taste of the human race"), mixed with the fun chorus ("Herculeeee-aaaan!"), makes for a shamelessly fun blast of retro pop. "One False Move" begins with airy synths and a gentle, bouncing beat, a very pretty tune, but then shifts gears two minutes in, becoming a raucous, loud, charging, garage rock song for the rest of its four minutes, equaling the most effervescent moments by the New Pornographers.

This album just has so much going for itself, its abundance of sublime moments providing an embarrassment of riches. There's the '70s West Coast vibe of "Life Through One Speaker", and the absolutely gorgeous ballad "More Than I Can Say", during which Brain makes the strangely graphic line "America wraps me in her bloody armor" sound oddly sweet. "In This Atmosphere" boasts more of a shoegazer sound, with its droning guitars that crash through your speakers, while Pittman's acoustic solo turn on "Ella" is reminiscent of latter-day John Lennon.

"We're not gonna grace the cover of Elle", sings Pittman on "Young & Sexy". That may be true, but this band's pure, lush melodies are much more entrancing than any airbrushed photo of this week's It girl could ever be. An innocuous charmer, this album is as pretty as anything you'll hear these days.

— 20 November 2003 -

"Globe and Mail Review of Life through one Speaker"

Refreshingly old and cynical

Thursday, October 16, 2003 - Page R3

Young and Sexy went on a working vacation to Galliano Island, and came back with this album.

Really, it's amazing what you can find, and lose, at the beach. Ten songs, all scuffed clean by surf and sand. You pick them up, turn them over, and wonder where they washed in from.

Young and Sexy are a Vancouver pop band whose name conceals a hollow laugh. Its music is mostly about being older and wiser, while still on the near side of 30, and still uncertain as to whether wisdom isn't just a euphemism for disappointment.

"You're out of dreams," sings Paul Hixon Pittman, whose writing for the band is full of declarations that sound speculative.

Maybe the dreams are all finished, or maybe not. The wayward shape of Pittman's melodies, which often abandon symmetry to follow the lyric idea, makes every statement provisional. It's as if he were wandering through corridors of thought and feeling, with no expectation that the next turn will reveal the solution.

The characters in his songs are always waking up to the realization that a crucial sign has been missed, or not given at the right time. Or, like the guy in Herculean Bellboy, they slumber in dreams that have no point of overlap with their actual lives.

The condition is too universal for Pittman's ironic eye to pass over without sympathy. His tunes snake into your mind like all good pop.

Some of the arrangements are remarkably complex, either harmonically (check out the subtle strangeness of One False Move) or in the way they realize the mood of the lyrics.

The keening siren tones of Weekend Warriors, which recur as a vocal pun, are just one example.

There's usually a touch of reverberation in the vocals, by Pittman and Lucy Brain, which suits the distanced intimacy of the songwriting.

The band (which includes Teddy Bois on keyboards, André Lagacé on guitars and Ron Teardrop on drums) also has a knack for placing silences, like commas in a line of text.

At such moments, when the music seems to pause for breath or further reflection, you can feel why these songs were necessary, and why in a sense they are all unfinished occasions.

- ***1/2/****

"NXNE 2002 Gig Review"

Vancouver popsters Young and Sexy rocked an insanely packed Rancho at midnight. Folks were lined up around the block for the gig, and it was hard to believe anyone could live up to the hype, but the Young'uns did a damn fine job. They opened with a killer cover of the Velvets' I Found A Reason that saw frontman Paul Hixon Pittman doing his best Lou Reed impression while bandmates Lucy Brain and Ted Bois offered Pips-ish doo-woppy backing vocals. The rest of their set had the audience making feeble attempts at dancing in the steamy, claustrophobia-inducing space. Live, Young and Sexy's tunes have a helluva lot more bite than they do on the group's lovely debut CD. Screw all those Belle & Sebastian comparisons; the Scots couldn't rock this hard if they tried.
- Now magazine (Toronto)

"Time Out New York Review of Stand up for your Mother"

Whether it's Britney Spears's mass-produced tunes or the more independent sounds of bands such as Sloan, pop often doesn't require a lot of intellectual effort. When gratification is instantly available, why would anyone go through the obstacles set up by an album like Stand Up for Your Mother? But not all art should be easy, and in cases such as this one, it's well worth the extra work.

That's not to say that Vancouver's Young and Sexy, led by singer-guitarist Paul Hixon Pittman, doesn't put its hooks right in you. The alluring, opening guitar strains of "Stand Up to Your Mother" carry the low chill of a Canadian winter before introducing the first of many striking harmonies between Pittman and his muse, vocalist Lucy Brain. However, with what seems like six different sections within 3:47, the track can't sit still or be defined. Similarly, ugliness abounds in "Chikubi," with its fingernails-on-a-chalkboard start and jarring keyboard solo, but they're offset by breathy, transporting harmonies and powerful band-wide convergences. Those who crave catchiness will be rewarded by songs like "Lies, Ties and Battlefields," a slow sing-along about how it feels to not really feel anything at all, and "Better," where the first actual groove appears—then is almost instantly killed off.

The most amazing moments occur when Pittman and Brain join voices. This pairing adds fascinating intensity to the cooing "Television" and gels unforgettably in "Scott," where the harmonies explode across an expansive backdrop of piano and drums. Stand Up for Your Mother can appear daunting with its maze of misdirections, but have faith: Young and Sexy's seductively cerebral master plan really works.—David Weiss - Time Out New York, May 2-9, 2002

"Exclaim! Review of Panic When You Find It"

Young and Sexy’s sophomore album succeeds where many have failed: it revives classic pop, but doesn’t bruise it with the worst of today’s shticks. It doesn’t sound phoney, it doesn’t get lost in abstruseness, and it’s not made for teenagers to impress their classmates by namedropping. Instead it is subtle, tactfully arranged and very, very pretty. Young and Sexy have real compunction — they’re not showy, and they don’t waste all their chips on one single part of an arrangement. Their multi-vocal harmonies are tuned and subdued to a choral accuracy, their instrumental melodies are lucid and complimentary, and their allusions to retro acts are tastefully integrated into newer sounds. There are strokes of soft psych-pop, sharpest in the jazzy flushes through “The Night Wears a Sombrero,” and in the vocals of a certain male member who sounds a bit like Curt Boettcher. The pilfered ideas dissolve nicely into sparse, empty-theatre post-rock effects, coming across soft-as-plume but not trite. The closing track, “Satellite,” is revamped country rock in the league of beloved fellow revival act Beachwood Sparks. These songs tend to meld together, but Young and Sexy are really on to something, they just seem a little shy. Here’s hoping that, with some much-deserved encouragement, Y&S go on to show many of their confused peers how you should treat your idols.
By Alex Molotkow
March 13, 2006
- Exclaim!

"Eight must-hear bands from B.C. that are a-okay (SPIN)"

No good emerging scene is complete without an indie label holding its talent together, and Vancouver's no exception. Mint, home of the New Pornographers, also houses some of the city's best up-and-comers. Young and Sexy are one of those bands, and though they first grabbed headlines for their lineup (bandleaders Paul Pittman and Lucy Brain are former lovers), soon enough they were garnering just as much press for their cheeky lyrics. Vancouverites were especially chatty about "The City You Live In Is Ugly," from 2002's Stand Up For Your Mother, a criticism of their hometown's architectural choices complete with monotone samples of the voice of the Skytrain (think subway, but above ground). Y&S's newly released Panic When You Find It promises to be as drippingly sarcastic and hopelessly danceable as their previous releases.
By: Kaitlin Fontana
March 2, 2006 -

"All Music Review of Panic When You Find It"

2006's Panic When You Find It is another sophisticated, smart, and tuneful album from Vancouver's Young and Sexy. On it, the band refines their already pristine sound, tightens their lyrical scope, and comes up with a truly heartbreaking and musically breathtaking album. As the stark black-and-white artwork on the sleeve foreshadows, almost all of the lightheartedness that colored their previous work has disappeared and in its place are dark lyrical themes (the bruised lips and soldiers of "Your Enemy's Asleep," the wrenching loss of "Without Your Love," the bittersweet sadness of "Turn on Your Weakness"; even the less-than-serious, country-influenced. office rock-ballad "Satellite" is dipped in regret) and mid-tempo tunes so autumnal you can nearly smell the burning leaves. The richer and more restrained instrumentation of Panic deepens the feelings of melancholy the lyrics inspire, most of the songs have the kind of epic layering and classic chamber pop arrangements that can go so wrong in the hands of bands who don't have the songs or sure-handed restraint to make something real out of their influences. Tracks like "5/4," "The Curious Organ," and "Conventional Lullabies" are perfectly constructed with soaring choruses, subtle instrumentation, and vocal harmonies that can raise goose bumps. Co-vocalists Lucy Brain and Paul Hixon Pittman blend like siblings rather than the ex-lovers they actually are, and their reserved and calm vocals allow the melodies and arrangements to deliver the emotional punches. Indeed, their harmonies on "Turn on Your Weakness" will rip the heart right out of more vulnerable listeners, and their vocalizing on "Trespass on a Thought" conjures up the Go-Betweens circa 16 Lovers Lane which is just about the highest praise one can imagine for a band like this. Young and Sexy has grown older and more real, and Panic When You Find It is an album that proves once again that the band has few peers when it comes to making smart and sophisticated adult pop in the mid-2000s.
by Tim Sendra - AMG

"Time: Pick of the Week-Panic When You Find It"

In pop music, nothing can kill a band's image faster than trying too hard. Fortunately Young and Sexy has avoided that fate: The five-piece band from Vancouver already knows exactly what it does best. Its third full-length release, Panic When You Find It, is a technically superb, 60s-influenced pop-rock album--and doesn't pretend to be more. There is no overarching theme in the often dark lyrics that songwriter Paul Hixon Pittman says he "usually think[s] about a year later," long after he's written them. Pittman's favorite song on the disc, 5/4, was named after its time signature since the band couldn't come up with another name for it. Even "Young and Sexy"--a tag the band has kept since 1998, through various line-up changes--has little significance. "We were just trying to come up with a band name," Pittman, 34, says simply. "In retrospect, I would never choose it now."

Pittman & Co. keep their focus squarely on the fundamentals--the melodies, the harmonies, the dynamics--and that focus, ultimately, is what makes Panic such a successful and thoroughly enjoyable album. The vocal harmonies of Pittman and Lucy Brain--the two trade off as lead singers--are striking. Brain's voice in particular has a beautiful stand-out quality, shown off on the melancholy Without Your Love." Clean, melodious guitars carry the album, while piano, trumpet, and the use of unconventional time signatures (including, yes, 5/4,) create a sophisticated feel. (Pittman cites British folk rockers Fairport Convention as the single biggest influence on this album.) Young and Sexy sound poppy and full of energy, even on the mellow tracks which are their strongest.

In fact, the real triumph of Panic is that the band never lets its technical mastery get in the way of the album's prettiness. The adept rhythm section keeps things mostly understated. The instrumentation gives the album a full sound, but not one that's over the top. And, perhaps most important of all, Young and Sexy don't drag out a song longer than two minutes if it's not necessary. The result is an album that sounds unified and pleasant, but that you could still offer to your piano teacher as proof that not all pop musicians are talentless hacks. - Time Canada

"Pop Matters Review of Panic When You Find It"

As Canadian indie bands like The New Pornographers, The Arcade Fire, Metric, Broken Social Scene, and Stars have recently enjoyed commercial success in their home country and abroad after years of hard work, the same can’t be said for Vancouver’s Young and Sexy, who have been left coughing in the dust of their more famous peers, despite putting out some of the best Canadian pop music this decade. Even through their first two albums were very well-received (2002’s Stand Up For Your Mother and 2003’s Life Through One Speaker), for all the praise heaped upon them by critics, it’s never translated into strong album sales for the band. In Canada, where most of the attention is focused on scenesters in Toronto and Montreal, it’s tougher to get noticed when you’re based three thousand miles away on the West Coast (The New Pornographers, Hot Hot Heat, and Black Mountain are among the few who have managed to do so), and in Young and Sexy’s case, it certainly doesn’t help when it takes so long to put out album number three. So vibrant has the Canadian indie scene been over the last couple years, that it’s easy to see how Young and Sexy could get lost in the shuffle, but hearing their new disc, it doesn’t take long before your memory is jogged, the realization of I forgot how good this band is! hits, and you’re sifting through your old CDs in search of their other albums.

Nearly three years ago, Life Through One Speaker was a pretty little album, one that combined gentle (dare I say, twee) indie pop laced with plenty of homages to early 70s AM radio singles, with heavy emphasis on the sunny West Coast vibe from that era, exemplified by shamelessly wide-eyed fare as “Oh My Love”, “Herculean Bellboy”, and “More Than I Can Say”, all led by the winsome male-female vocal interplay of Paul Pittman and Lucy Brain. Now, with the band lineup completely overhauled (Andre Legace switching from bass to guitar, Brent MacDonald becoming the new bassist and Lucy’s brother Alex now taking care of the drumming), Panic When You Find It has Young and Sexy sounding just as lushly melodic, but with a tinge of darkness this time around, songs more downbeat than upbeat, the difference between the new album and its predecessor like that between summer and autumn. The days get shorter, the shadows get longer, and there’s more of a bite in the air.

Opening track “Your Enemy’s Asleep” encapsulates the melancholy that pervades the new album, as Pittman sings from a soldier’s point of view, not about senseless war but of the pain closer to one’s heart, that of being torn away from loved ones for so long (“Your lips are bruised/With a soldier’s last caress”), as the song gently careens from a dirge-like pace to gentle waves of effects-laden guitars. The slow, nocturnal vibe of “Without Your Love” is enhanced beautifully by Brain’s plaintive, torch-like singing, while the piano-driven “5/4”, with its tremolo guitar, heads more towards Richard Hawley territory, displaying hints of 50s pop, not to mention some lovely vocal harmonies reminiscent of the band’s old stand-by, Belle and Sebastian. The gorgeous “Trespass on a Thought” is the most ambitious song on the record, and arguably the best of the lot, as the band display the same kind of songwriting ingenuity they so expertly showed on “Oh My Love”, this time sounding less rose-tinted indie rock, and slightly more world-weary orchestral pop.

Panic When You Find It is not without more effervescent fare, as the boy-girl harmonies “The Curious Organ” brings to mind that old Mamas and Papas cliché, and “Conventional Lullabies” sound directly inspired by fellow Vancouverite Carl Newman, but for the most part, the album is at its best when wallowing in its own misery. While Stars has nailed the male-female indie pop sound in recent years, the songwriting prowess of Young and Sexy cannot be ignored. If they can maintain some stability in the band, and perhaps get a lucky break or two, they just might be as big as their Montreal counterparts. For now, though, they’ll have to make do with being one of their country’s best-kept musical secrets. - Pop Matters


Stand up for your mother - LP
Life through one speaker - LP
Panic when you find it - LP
The Arc - LP (out May 13, 2008)

CBC live sessions recorded January 2004.
Hear them here:

"Too good to be forgotten" - Single on "Sunny" a kids book compilation featuring indie Vancouver bands

"Santa Claus likes rich kids better" - Single on "It's a Mint Xmas 2004" compilation.



Young & Sexy were formed in November, 1998 by Lucy Brain and Paul Hixon Pittman. The band signed to Mint Records and released their debut album Stand Up For Your Mother in 2002. Life Through One Speaker, their second full length release, followed closely in 2003. After internal struggles threatened to tear the band apart, the line up settled down in 2004 with André Lagacé switching from bass to lead guitar and with the addition of Lucy's brother Alex Brain on drums and Brent McDonald on bass. The new line up toured extensively throughout Canada and the States earning accolades along the way. While still firmly rooted in harmony laden indie rock, Young & Sexy’s third album Panic When You Find It found Y&S experimenting with different time signatures and textures. The album received great reviews, sold very little and drew comparisons with such disparate acts as Pink Floyd, Fairport Convention, The Zombies, Led Zeppelin and The Go Betweens. Young & Sexy's newest album The Arc takes the musical leitmotifs of Panic and expands on them, creating an album of complicated beauty that is also easy on the ears; eleven new songs that wield the rare gift for artful experimentation and strong melodic invention.