Some great bands are not meant to last. These bands leave behind them a back catalogue for which there are insufficient superlatives, never growing old, stale and boring. Imagine if The Streets had called it a day after A Grand Don’t Come For Free; the work Mike Skinner left behind would have seen him considered one of the gods of British hip-hop.
Colossal Youth is the only album Young Marble Giants ever released. Yet listening to its 40 minutes you never find yourself wanting to hear more. You simply want to flip back to side one and re-immerse yourself in the minimalist atmosphere of a truly beautiful album. This is a work that values atmosphere and that has feeling to make up for the lack of musical depth.
Here is a body of work that proves that such things as musical skill and song structure do not matter – frankly, the drum machine sounds comical. Built around the stark guitar of Stuart Moxham this is an album that delivers its emotional resonance through the stunning performance of vocalist Alison Statton.
It is here that those comparisons with The xx that you might have heard are most apparent. Indeed Statton’s voice does at times yearn in the same way as Romy Madley-Croft yet it is here that the association ends. Colossal Youth is a more distant album; if The xx perform with their hearts on their sleeves you wonder whether Young Marble Giants even have a heart.
It doesn’t really matter if Young Marble Giants seem distant though, it just adds to the intrigue behind the band. The fact that this is the only album they have yet released and that Statton is now putting her vocals to use as a chiropractor makes this album all the more incredible.
I am always somewhat upset when I listen to this album, not because the record makes me sad, but because of the thought that Mumford & Sons can create one album that constitutes auditory violence and buy all the wellies they could need whilst the musicians behind this have faded away, adored by some but forgotten by most.