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Electric Youth
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Hometown: Toronto.
The lineup: Bronwyn and Austin.
The background: Electric Youth are named after an album by Debbie Gibson who, along with Tiffany, was the quintessential late-80s US bubblegum teen pop girl. A young couple from Canada, Bronwyn and Austin of Electric Youth are part of the same amorphous community of pop-obsessing bloggers and music-makers as the chillwave and witch house crew, but unlike, say, Teengirl Fantasy, they’re not using pop language and imagery as a front for a more avant-garde exploration of that territory – they ARE Debbie Gibson. Seriously, the songs on their MySpace don’t just sound like indie approximations of exuberant 80s teen-pop fluff, they could be tracks from that 1989 album.
Actually, we said quintessential but we meant totemic. Because for Electric Youth, Gibson is emblematic of all the things they love about the mid-to-late 80s: television commercials, film soundtracks, MTV videos, certain sci-fi TV series such as V, Michael Crichton movies, the Brat Pack, and Madonna/Cyndi Lauper songs when they were quirky New Yorkers whose music was informed by new wave, disco and early electro. Gibson was the first living embodiment of all this stuff, the first to have it in her DNA, to suck it all in then spew it all out. Electric Youth want to capture the moment the mallrat went supernova and became America’s sweetheart.
In terms of intent, you could, as we say, easily join the dots between Electric Youth and the electronic reveries of Washed Out, even the mangled memories of oOoOO. But musically they couldn’t be further apart. Besides, they have a micro-scene of their own: they’re part of something called the Valerie Collective, which includes a French archivist and nostalgist called David Grellier who produces, remixes and makes records under the name College, and his friends Anoraak and Russ Chimes (a Londoner who has remixed Chromeo and Sam Sparro), plus a couple of other acts, Minitel Rose and the Outrunners, all of whom operate in the west of France. Together, they blog, create lush, catchy synthpop and generally raise the act of homage to epic, fanatical proportions.
Just don’t be fooled into thinking this is some indie in-joke. Electric Youth’s songs – and they’re only demos, although you wouldn’t know it because they sound like the finished product – are seriously accomplished, even if they are versions of music you may well hate or vaguely recall as an abomination. Basically, if you liked Madonna’s Borderline, Lucky Star and Holiday, or the gaudy neon synth-rock of, not Electric Youth so much as Gibson’s 1987 debut Out of the Blue, then you’ll love Electric Youth’s music, Bronwyn’s effortlessly shiny vocals and Austin’s pristine production, and you’ll enjoy playing spot-the-steal with probably the last corner of the 80s yet to enjoy critical rehabilitation.
The buzz: “Bronwyn’s voice is one of the most beautiful in the world of blog electro, it fits so perfectly with Austin’s happy, bubbly sounds” –
The truth: Electric Youth make us nostalgic for school. Shermer High School, to be precise.
Most likely to: Take Molly Ringwald back to the future.
Least likely to: Produce Madonna’s next album. Work on a 1983 remix collection, maybe.
What to buy: The track Faces is available on a Valerie Collective compilation – called Valerie and Friends – on iTunes, also featuring Minitel Rose, College, Russ Chimes and more.
File next to: Debbie Gibson, Madonna, Cyndi Lauper, Nu Shooz.
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