Did you really expect Keep Doing What You’re Doing to be bad? Let’s be honest, if you’re here now then you probably didn’t. If that’s the case, then prepare to be relieved, because You Blew It!’s sophomore album is excellent from start to finish.
I’ve been writing a lot about sad music recently, and Keep Doing What You’re Doing is a testament as to why. It’s because music that makes a listener feel something is becoming increasingly compulsory, and You Blew It!’s second album is definitely compulsory listening. From the surging guitars of opener ‘Match and Tinder’ the record flickers and burns the way the tracks title suggests. You Blew It! light the fuse instantly and let it burn, occasionally slowing things down to nourish the flame and it makes for a record that holds a listener’s attention, drawing them in, and it’s partly because Keep Doing What You’re Doing is more up-tempo than the majority of releases of this nature, with a fair share of more mellow and sentimental drawn out moments. There’s still more than enough well expressed shout along lyrics (‘I’ll put my mind over matter to put this matter out of mind’) from vocalist Tanner Jones to make a listener get all angsty and emotional, but Keep Doing What You’re Doing branches out much more than You Blew It! have allowed themselves to in the past. The instrumental side of the record especially shines, most notably on the punchy ‘Award Of The Year Award’ and the brooding ‘A Different Kind of Kindling’. The band also explores longer song structures, with tracks often passing the four and a half-minute mark – something their debut never did – and it allows them to expand musically, throwing in lengthy instrumental segments, like those on the indie-infused ‘Gray Matter’ and aggressive ‘Rock Springs’. It’s a formula that works, meaning there’s emotion conveyed in every aspect of You Blew It!’s music, and it’s a record that rarely lets up as a result.
Whilst debut LP Grow Up Dude was fittingly low-fi and fuzzy, Keep Doing What You’re Doing takes it up a notch, favouring a more refined and traditional sound in a sense. Having genre pioneer Evan Weiss on production helps massively, because Keep Doing What You’re Doing is able to communicate on a much more effective scale, despite losing some of the charm that their 2012 release carried. Tracks like ‘Strong Island’ are more reminiscent of the Florida threesomes past work, but they’ve upped their game significantly overall, most notably on the emphatic and expansive ‘House Address’, which is one of the records best. Subtly conveyed vocals give way to floating guitar melodies and crooning backing vocals as Jones laments ‘I always felt fine singing in your basement’ and ‘Eventually I’ve got to get used to remember when?’ amidst sweeping rising melodies. The final minute is surprisingly uplifting as cascading instrumentals see the track off in fine fashion. It’s a clear progression, and You Blew It! have taken huge strides since Grow Up Dude. Eighth track ‘You & Me & Me’ offers a healthy dose of self-reflection / self-dissection, pairing catchy instrumentals with some of the albums most personal and relatable lyrics. It’s another memorable track that leaves a mark, and yet another example of the band at their contagiously affecting best. The only issue that arises on Keep Doing What You’re Doing is that occasionally the tracks sound too similar, and it’s something that becomes increasingly noticeable with each listen.
Tenth and final track ‘Better To Best’ is a stunning closer, beginning with another calming instrumental intro before Jones comes in with the lines ‘Maybe things aren’t as bad as I let myself believe, I’m so much better than I used to be’. I could repeat what I said in my Grandview review a few weeks ago, but I love when fairly negative records end on a positive note, especially when lyrics like these are coupled with the euphoric instrumentals that the final track ends with.
Keep Doing What You’re Doing is yet another example of the genre pulled off incredibly well. You Blew It! build on their debut in every possible way, and it’ll be interesting to see where they go from here, having released a record that’s up there with the best of recent memory.
Rating – 8/10
Listen to: House Address / Award Of The Year Award / You & Me & Me
Buy it / listen here: https://topshelfrecords.bandcamp.com/album/keep-doing-what-youre-doing