From the opening notes of Youngster’s new Extended Play EP (EP = Extended Play if you didn’t know) the influence of The Strokes early albums is undeniable. In my years of seeing them live, I’ve always known that influence was there, but on this new EP it’s front and center. For Youngster it works. Frontman Blake Ratliffe channels Julian Casablanca’s laid back vocal style, pushed when necessary, but other times blanketing the guitars with comfort. Look no further than the first verse of Youngster’s opening track for an Albert Hammond Jr. signature, with the guitar crisply bouncing with an energy that propels the song forward.
I wouldn’t say it took Youngster this many years to find their sound, but it was more of a natural progression once all the pieces fell into place. The band started as a duo in 2010 when Ratliffe parted ways with former band Octopus Jones. His guitar style with them then was a strong presence with that band, and it’s something he carried over into his new project. The guitar work on Extended Play is one of its strongest assets. Tone wise, it’s on point, clean enough where you can hear each note, with just enough zing for it to cut through the mix. From their early shows to this EP Ratliffe’s improved most vocally. It’s with these four songs and the bands new material where he’s found the Goldilocks zone for his voice with the band.
Youngster recorded the four song EP in Charleston with Wolfgang Zimmerman, who always seems to get the best out of every artists he records. That’s exactly what he’s done here, capturing the perfect sound for these tracks and helping bring out the best aspects of the band. The timing of the EP couldn’t be any better either. Extended Play has a summer feel, laid back and easy-going with a clean and crisp feel. It’s tasteful in best ways, with smooth bends in “Who Knows” and guitars that intertwine seamlessly in each track. This EP serves its purpose of leaving the listener wanting more.