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Review: 'Young, Chris and the Ever Diminishing Ego'
'Pain Stripper (The Art of Coming Undone) (EP)'   

-  Genre: 'Folk'

Our Rating:
Chris Young first touched my life and my heart – recording as Quills. The album 'The Spirit Level' (2010, expanded and rereleased 2015) was – and remains – a wonderful work of sparse acoustic melancholy and aching beauty that brings a lump to the throat. Now working as Chris Young and the Ever Diminishing Ego, Young is pushing a rather different sonic trajectory. As his Bandcamp bio explains, ‘his latest venture follows a more punk aesthetic, incorporating a new found sense of urgency which attempts to illustrate the insanity of modern day life’.

It’s relatable: every aspect of modern life is insane, and there isn’t a day that doesn’t feel like there’s some kind of impending doom, that time is finite. Urgency isn’t the half of it when you can’t help but feel that days are numbered. And so Young has gone all-put on direct, the delicate, poised and understated compositions of his previous work superseded by simple acoustic tree-chord stomps over which Young half speaks, half shouts sociopolitical observations and commentary intermingled with an array of off-the-cuff random shit, and makes no effort to cover his Mersey accent.

Combining the not-giving-a-fuck-sweary-stream-of-conscious-bile of Sleaford Mods with the direct politicisations of Billy Bragg, his closest peer by far is Mark Wynn, who (in)famously quit music on the brink of success following a tour as support for Sleaford Mods. Like Wynn, Young’s lyrical genius is revealed through his capacity to render the mundane fascinating, bizarre, amusing. There’s no pretence: the delivery is rough and the raw, irreverent approach is key to the appeal as he spins yarns ranging from bus stops and inappropriate sexual fantasies

The title is fitting: it’s less a collection of songs than the document of a man wrestling with all of the craziness of the world, and how he can possibly process this. In the persona and the abstract lies the universal. And as ‘Trador’ attests, Young still has the capacity for beautiful chord structures, before the final song, ‘A Strange Kind of Comfort’ marks some sort of return to his more intimate style of old, displaying a vulnerability that’s a million miles from the ranting polemic of ‘Off Yer Bonce’.

The power of the ever-diminishing ego is that Chris Young feels suitably liberated to rant his noodle off and spout like a maniac and throw all that shit in public as a cathartic exercise as he grapples with everything. Young doesn’t have the answers: he’s very much still working it all out, and Pain Stripper is his process of doing so.

  author: Christopher Nosnibor

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