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The Haunted Youths debut Dawn of the Freak is a shoegaze soaked exorcism of the past

"Dawn of the Freak"

Release date: 04 November 2022
8/10
The haunted youth dawn art
05 November 2022, 00:00 Written by Craig Howieson
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Joachim Liebens choice of band name seems fitting once you have spent any length of time with his intoxicating debut Dawn Of The Freak. Liebens - the driving force behind The Haunted Youth - describes his songwriting as a form of therapy, much of which can be attained through his scrutiny of the ghosts of his past as a means of finding his way forward in the world.

He uses his words sparingly, but when paired with the dream-pop and shoegazing backdrop of his music, they take on a mantric quality that through repetition allow you to tease out hidden meanings, while appropriating your own. On the celestial “Shadows”, above the interplay of chiming guitars and unmoored synths Liebens recites just one repeated phrase “I need to get away / From here / Cause it hurts / Cause it’s just / Me in the shadows.” But it is more than enough to plunge the listener into the darkest recesses of their own youth, and remind them that they made it out.

Liebens resting heart rate may be a good deal quicker, but the influence of some of slowcores biggest names is inescapable in the way he is able to grow minimalist structures into absorbingly complex soundscapes. There are also flashes of '80s indie, goth and synth-pop in his songwriting that echo Future Islands and divert some of the tracks into a euphoric trance. These are not songs intended for the dancefloor though, and instead would be better suited accompanying heads hung in cloakrooms as the rush wears off, providing a window of optimism to tear stained eyes.

Liebens has little issue in coming up with lyrics – or band names for that matter – that are both vague and unnervingly resonant. Even when he is a bit too on the nose as on “I Feel Like Shit And I Wanna Die” it is hard to argue with his ability to cut straight to the point without straying into juvenile pouting. Who, after all, has never felt like that at their lowest and most exasperated?

At its core Dawn Of The Freak feels like Liebens is starting to recognise and move towards accepting the unique quirks and insecurities that define him; that same strangeness we all have that makes us who we are. Across these ten gauzy dreamscapes of regret and positive realisation there is something quietly affirming in the knowledge that we are all weird in our own ways, and it's something to fight to preserve and not hide away from.

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