The American electronic duo assert their aesthetic of late-night drives and youthful exploration in a euphoric eight-track record.
There’s something fitting about listening to The Lost Youth at just after midnight on Friday. Alongside the obvious reference to the name of Dylan Lee and Kyle Girard’s electro project, the pair’s music has always been the kind addressed to the night owls, to be played at dusk in those moments of pensive thought and reflection.
It’s a vibe built up through earlier releases such as Find Our Way and Those Were The Days, and emphasised through their social media pages. Their Instagram is adorned with photos of the two staring out from rooftops at dusk and boulevard walks only illuminated by streetlights. On the EP itself, the pair say it’s an “anthem for those who feel unseen, unheard or overlooked”.
The ‘anthem’ begins with a two-part instrumental in the form of Innocence and Everything You Are. The former, similar to Madeon’s Home, leaning into trickling synth arpreggio. The latter, with its punchier and more pronounced melody and rhythm, is akin to Technicolor and deadmau5’s The Veldt. Stylistically, as an introduction, the tracks represent both the calm and the energetic. As the opening of a narrative, it tackles the initial imagination and wonder of youth – perhaps the naivety or the innocence, to use the title.
This then lends itself well to the central four songs, all revolving around the more rebellious exploration that can follow. The first being Run It which, complete with its idling instrumentals leading into a loud, hard-hitting chorus, does well to replicate the rush and thrills the song’s protagonist is looking to feel again in wishing to run a red light.
The steady pace of the line ‘we just want to stay this young for…’ underneath a free-flowing drum beat is both creative for its contrasting rhythms, but also slightly jarring in its delivery from performer Annika Wells (also a co-writer on the track). The blending of the words ‘for/everyday’ is a push in terms of tempo, and it isn’t the first time Midnight Kids have stretched the limits of meter. Their second single Serious, featuring veteran dance vocalist Matthew Koma, is absent of a beat until the drop and has a staggering and juddering pre-chorus. The approach in Run It is likely to be a bit defiant in nature, so as to match the theme of the story, but it is a minor snag in the track.
From technical deviance to a drift towards a different dance style. Break Away (feat. Lisa Goe) distances itself from the more delicate, but euphoric tone of other tracks of the album (and previous releases) with gritty, deep house. If other songs on the EP are more for solitary listening, then this is the one destined for club dance floors. It is, of course, distinctive in its bass-heavy sound, but still fits in comfortably into the overall narrative arc of the EP, musing on “[feeling] alive when we misbehave”. If the seven remaining tracks seek to solidify Midnight Kids’ trademark style, then Break Away is an appropriate name for this song by indicating the duo’s range.
The aforementioned middle quartet continues and then concludes with Monsters and Bad For You respectively. Looking at all four thematically, the group all explore similar ideas. Run It talks about a yearning for returning to a rebellious youth, Break Away seems to suggest an individual wanting to distance themselves from the norm, Monsters taps into being reckless without limitations and Bad For You discussing ‘making rules’ and ‘breaking them too’.
Though if Bad For You was the track for the initial rush of excitement felt in a new relationship, then Last Time is the heartbreaking follow-up reminiscing on a love that has been and gone. This song, together with the final track, Higher, adopt a more naturalistic and stripped-back instrumental style in comparison to the previous six.
Last Time gives full space for singer Megan Redmond (who, like Michelle Buzz on the vibrant, multi-layered track Monsters, is uncredited) to shine with her soft, melancholic vocals, while minimal piano chords play underneath them. Equally, as Redmond sings ‘I didn’t know that when I said goodbye, I would be saying it for the last time’, there is a beautiful bass melody playing in the background. It is, for its ability to evoke so much emotion with a minimalistic approach, the standout track of the EP, with Monsters being a close second for doing essentially the opposite for its piano stabs and groovy chopped vocals.
As songs within The Lost Youth bounce between hindsight and forward-thinking, the arc of exploration and then reconsideration ends with Higher, featuring Opposite the Other. Accompanied by light guitar, he sings about wanting to ‘find heaven’ with another person. ‘We’re higher now’, he adds, in a way which also suggests the individual is in a better place or position than before, if you were to consider the whole EP as being one major narrative.
On the whole, The Lost Youth is a creative collection of binaries, from moments of calm to explosions of euphoria, flashing back to the past and dreaming about the future. As listeners, it grounds us in the present with reflective subject matters whilst leaving room for our imagination. As artists, the EP cements Midnight Kids as masters of nostalgia and sets them up as electronic dance visionaries.
Lost Youth is available to stream and download now.