[MULTIFACETED POP] When it placed fifth in WW’s Best New Band poll this year, Portland quartet Youth also earned another, more dubious distinction: It became the only act in the poll’s history to break up between ballot-casting and ballot-counting. Fortunately for those disappointed fans, three of Youth’s former members joined Typhoon drummer Pieter Hilton this summer to form a new group called Genders.
Its self-titled mini-EP picks up not far from where Youth left off. The record opens with a song titled “Golden State” and concludes with one called “Twin Peaks”—a fitting track-sequencing for a band that, both in its present incarnation and as three-quarters of Youth, artfully dappled depressed, Northwest-y indie rock with pop reminiscent of ’60s California. “Golden State,” as you might expect, leans toward the latter sound, its sunny guitar riffs and singer Maggie Morris’ lightly reverb-sprayed vocals wafting in on an ocean breeze from an earlier, more carefree time. Over on the “Twin Peaks” end of the record, we’re not at the beach but somewhere more complex. Driving percussion and lockstep guitars keep breaking ranks; the drums skitter, the melodies meander. Middle track “Sugarcoat” hits the sweet spot, the guitars daydreaming through the verses (and, in the breakdown, indulging in an almost surf-rock-style reverie), but coming down to earth for Morris’ affectingly sung choruses.
If Genders continues to strike a balance, as it does here, between pop and harder-edged rock, past and present, light and dark—well, the loss of Youth might not seem such a bad thing.
SEE IT: Genders plays Rontoms, 600 E Burnside St., with Woodwinds, on Sunday, Nov. 11. 8 pm. Free. 21+.