Heartour’s Jason Young is a songwriting talent whose name should be familiar to any serious fan of modern music and the project’s new album release R u in may help push him a little closer to making that a reality. He has chosen ten on-point songs to illustrate the project’s development since their last release and it is clear his time away from Heartour related music pays off well with a vibrant and creative collection. The same attention to detail defining his earlier releases remains in full view on R u in as is his propensity for blending his personal brand of electric dream pop with skewed, if not dark, lyrical content. Nine years have passed since Young last released a Heartour album and this fifth studio effort proves a new release was well worth the wait.
“Brain” propels the album into the stratosphere from the start thanks to its onrush of electronic instruments and the near bell-like clarity of Young’s vocal. He doesn’t have the sort of voice capable of soaring into upper registers and generally impressing you with its technical excellence, but it has dramatic qualities that work for this material and is more than merely serviceable. Young’s affinity for visuals comes across in his music as well – there’s a near cinematic flavor to tracks such as this thanks to their dramatic abundance of color.
That same dramatic abundance of color is present, as well, in the album’s second track “Refill the Fountains”. Young turns on the funk a little bit with this track as the electronic instruments riff on an infectious groove few, if any, listeners will fail to enjoy. He makes a forceful showing on the album’s opening duo before toning things down a little on the album’s third track “Let the Robots Drive”. This more restrained side of Heartour’s musical character fits in well with the bolder cuts on this release and provides an important shift in his musical focus that prevents the album from sounding too one note.
“As Far as We Go” is another outstanding track on the release and sure to be the favorite of many. It has fine words accompanying a steady yet undeniably involving musical arrangement that brings together his more restrained approach with the full on energy of the album’s more assertive tracks. “Eye on the Ball” is, I think, one of the more playful musical numbers included on R u in, but it isn’t some throwaway moment. It’s a little more outwardly light hearted than many of the album’s other songs, but a close listen to the lyrics reveals the same undercurrent of unease heard in other tracks as well.
“The Persuadable One” is another standout musical and lyrical moment on R u in. It has a jarring texture, darker than many included on this album, and the synthesizer flourishes built into the tune give it a harder edge than we’re accustomed with many tracks on this release. Young’s voice nails the song down, however, and the suggestive lyrics are among the finest on R u in. Though this review doesn’t cover each of the album’s ten tracks, there is no filler on Heartour’s fifth release. R u in shows the continued relevance of this project for Jason Young and let’s hope we don’t have to wait another nine years until he turns his attention to the next Heartour release.