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The Haul 2010: The Depreciation Guild's Spirit Youth

The Depreciation Guild – Spirit Youth LP – Kanine, 2010 – $10 (Harvard Sq. Newbury Comics, 9/17)

The Depreciation Guild's Spirit Youth

Built on a Weak Spot tipped me off to the Depreciation Guild and their 2010 LP Spirit Youth back in May, but it took me a while to stop dipping my toes in the pool and finally dive in headfirst. The Depreciation Guild has been lumped into the ever-expanding class of nu-gaze groups, but there’s a welcome classicism to their sound. Their influences stretch beyond holy triumvirate of My Bloody Valentine, Ride, and Slowdive to incorporate the C86/twee/indie pop that blurred with shoegaze in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s both in England (The Darling Buds) and the US (Velocity Girl). This relationship was standard operating procedure back then, but nu-gaze—a so-bad-it’s great genre title I can’t stop myself from using—has asked for some time apart.

I usually don’t complain about that temporary separation, since I love the pummeling muscularity of A Place to Bury Strangers, the math-rock trappings of The Life and Times, and the post-metal textures of Jesu, but the Depreciation Guild’s sugary vocal hooks make a perfect pair with ample doses of glide guitar. (M83 used to claim this territory, but Anthony Gonzalez’s fixation on John Hughes movies led him astray.) They’re bolstered by the occasional appearance of 8-bit electronics, most noticeable on the intro to opening track “My Chariot,” but this chiptune aesthetic never overwhelms Spirit Youth. Instead, the Depreciation Guild manages to sound simultaneously modern and retro, updating shoegaze without losing its original charm.

This precise balancing act extends to Spirit Youth as an album. The C86 side comes out most clearly in the up-tempo “My Chariot” and “Crucify You,” but tornado winds of guitar in “November,” “Through the Snow,” and “White Moth” assuage any cringing twee-haters. Given the Depreciation Guild’s association with The Pains of Being Pure at Heart—singer/guitarist Kurt Feldman plays drums in the latter, guitarist/singer Christoph Hochheim joins Pains on tour as a guitarist—one might expect more of an emphasis on the vintage indie pop, but Spirit Youth never loses sight of either side.

The Depreciation Guild is currently on tour—followed by a tour by their aforementioned brother band The Pains of Being Pure at Heart. I’m looking forward to catching them at T.T. the Bear’s tomorrow night and seeing if their stage presence is as classically informed as their sonics. If you’re stuck at home, you can check out the first product from Kurt Feldman’s similarly titled gaming company, The Depreciation Guild, Inc. TileWild is an appropriately retro-futuristic puzzle game for the iPhone. Hopefully it's as fun as Spirit Youth.