Belarusian Post-Punk Act The Violent Youth Unleashes Experimental Elegance On Na Igle
Their new album marks the Belarusian-German project’s signing with Artoffact Records and is packed with raw power and emotion.
The Violent Youth have come a long way sonically since their nostalgic, indie single “Pure” that kicked off their career. Their latest release Na Igle sits next to this and other early works like the Album Discotheque with a delicious contrast. Nevertheless, one thing that has remained consistent is the emotion and strength in the songwriting of visual artist and lead singer Arthur Tsymbal, the mastermind behind the project.
Na Igle now celebrates its first pressing on clear vinyl to mark the Belarusian project’s signing with Artoffact Records. The 12-track LP is a melodic medley of influences tied together by bold hooks and deep contrasts, from flowy synth harmonies to sharp and pounding beats.
Behind The Violent Youth are multi-instrumentalist Arthur Tsymbal and German bass player Julian Riegel. Formed in Belarus yet based in the German city of Augsburg since 2017, they have played with artists such as Edwin Rosen and Drangsal. Their previous album, Ostavaites Na Linii, came out in 2021.
Its follow-up, Na Igle, is an album with a clear beginning middle and end. Deliberately setting out to be more experimental, this has somehow made their work all the more satisfying. It can be a risky move to break boundaries, running the threat of dissatisfying the listener with tracks that lack resolution, a common pitfall that the duo has not only avoided but masterfully turned on its head. Featuring the plaintive vocals of Stereopolina part of the way through, it embodies the emotional ambiguities of post-punk while maintaining catchy and distinctive melodies.
The lead single “Prah” is made of a frantic, undulating riff with a sparse drum solo two-thirds of the way through. However, it has another trick up their sleeve. Given the opportunity to record for a 180-degree virtual reality video, the duo immediately chose this track. When watching, it lets you drag the screen and move around the venue they’re playing in. Letting you in on intimate details of the duo’s pedalboard, it brings you close to Tsymbal and Riegel’s playing in action, right at the heart of one of their gigs.
Given the versatility of post-punk, coldwave, and adjacent genres, there’s stiff competition when it comes to creating arresting albums. Na Igle starts in a classic gritty post-punk style but veers into mellow, upbeat sounds followed by dark yet danceable beats – and that’s only halfway through. Na Igle’s strength also lies in its self-awareness as an album. It lures the listener in and then lets them go with mechanical rhythms and a soulful, smooth ending.
It’s always difficult to give the middle of an LP as much excitement as the first few tracks. However, it’s here that The Violent Youth’s more experimental approach has paid off. Their willingness to shake up the boundaries they have established earlier means that two of the album’s most distinctive beats, singles “Ya Ne Hochu” and “Na Igle”, fall exactly where you’d least expect them. And continuing to throw curveballs, the hazy sounds and softer vocals of Stereopolina on the subsequent track “Eto Li Lubov?” take the listener in a not-unexpected but still refreshing direction.
The technological elements of post-punk have always given it a science fiction feeling. Its daughter genres coldwave, synthwave, and darkwave have always felt like they were both from a nostalgic past and a distant future. And in true science fiction fashion, Na Igle has an odd sense of emotion behind the pulsing drumbeats and technology itself that makes it up. It’s not just that the melody writing is top-notch and vocals are imbued with the raw emotion of Tsymbal’s voice. There is a sentience in the mechanical sounds as if The Violent Youth’s feelings have permeated even the inanimate soundwaves of its production.
Experimental can mean many different things. It doesn’t always tell you much about what conventions are broken – if any, for the phrase carries with it conventions depending on genre and context. Yet in the case of Na Igle, breaking convention means throwing the sounds of beginnings into endings, shaking up mid-sections with the intensity of a finale, latent pauses, and grainy synths next to crisp, clear beats.
Ultimately, this is an album that feels like a microcosm of a much wider world of ideas that Tsymbal and Riegel have kept back. It’s effortless yet yields more details each time you return to it. It’s bold and playful yet somehow fits into a pattern that feels instantly familiar. Its distinct parts are not ones you would expect to work together or in the order that they do – yet like a flavor pairing you’d never expect to taste so good, this album is innovation for the ears and food for the soul, all at the same time.
The Violent Youth’s new album Na Igle is out now via Artoffact Records, available in different formats right here.
The Violent Youth (DE)
Featured Image by Tatsi Mattmer