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Youth Code’s Commitment to Complications is One of 2016’s Best Albums

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I feel like such a fool for missing out on Youth Code until now. I checked out their 2013 self-titled debut after I was briefly introduced to vocalist Sara Taylor at LA’s Vacation Vinyl several years back, and for whatever reason it just didn’t click at the time. Three years and three more full albums later and I still didn’t know much about them when I went to see Tribulation in Brooklyn a couple of weeks back, where they were an opening act. Again, color me an idiot.

But just one song into their live show it hit me like a glacier calving down into sea below: HOLY FUCKING SHIT.

Admittedly, I’m not sure I grok all of the influences that have led to their hard-edged, synth-driven, industrio-metal attack. I owned the same records by White Zombie, NIN and The Prodigy everyone else did when I was a teenager in the ’90s, but that’s about as deep as my knowledge of the crossover between metal and industrial goes. Wikipedia lists Youth Code as an EBM (electronic body music) band; that designation means nothing to me, and I had to Google the acronym.

But that doesn’t seem to matter. Or maybe that’s EXACTLY what matters: Youth Code are incredibly straight-forward on the surface, and maybe it just shouldn’t be thought about too much — you either feel it or you don’t. Keyboardist and beat-maker Ryan George cranks out hard-driving, reverb-laden beats and BDSM dungeon synths while frontwoman Sara Taylor screams her fucking lungs out and bounces around the stage like a possessed banshee. It was intense, captivating, and magical.

Most importantly, the band has the songs to back it up. Every single track on their 2016 release Commitment to Complications is single-worthy (to whatever extent music so dark and fucked up could ever be a “single”), written with choruses and hooks in mind. George’s synth work and beats are infectious, and Taylor’s diction and lyrical hooks are eminently sing-along-able. It’s a winning combo, and I haven’t been able to stop listening to the album since the morning after the show with Tribulation.

Check it out below. You’ll see it again on my 2016 year-end list.

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