Young Jesus will follow up their 2020 album Welcome To Conceptual Beach (a BPM fave) with a new album called Shepherd Head, which arrives on September 16 through Saddle Creek. Whereas the band’s previous releases have been spawned of hashing it out together in rooms, this one finds leader John Rossiter piecing together sounds, both found and contributed, into a patchwork about faith and mortality, inspired by the passing of a close friend. He says:
“I would pitch things down an octave and add strange reverb. If a dog barked, I would isolate it and make it part of a beat. I recorded a voice singing on the street just walking by a storefront and autotuned it. Some guitar parts are just mistakes from voice memos that I chopped, stitched, and looped. I used sounds of rivers, people walking, friends talking. It was a lot of fun. I didn’t care about the fidelity of the recording. Whatever wanted to be in came in.”
The first song to be shared from Shepherd Head is “Ocean”, which finds them linking up with Saddle Creek labelmate and another spiritually inquisitive songwriter in Sarah Beth Tomberlin. It’s an upbeat song on first impression, with a bright buzzing melody and bubbling rhythms, but Rossiter’s forlorn voice soon clues us into the song’s themes of soul-searching and desire for purpose. “God is just the ocean where I’m lost” he intones, Tomberlin’s voice harmonising beautifully to accentuate the universality of these uncertainties. He may not know what higher powers there are, but he knows that he needs to commit himself to life; “Go / Give your life unto the weave / To the fabric and the seam,” Rossiter and Tomberlin gorgeously assert. It’s a gentle but overwhelming return for this fantastic band, who consistently walk a unique line of being life-affirming and life-questioning – and make it continually compelling.
Watch the video for “Ocean” below or find it on streaming platforms.