Youngster (Circle into Square, 07.2010)
For: Paper Airplanes, Modest Mouse, Son, Ambulance
Byline: Jacksonville native, and frequent Ben Cooper collaborator, pens a touching and instrumentally grand ode to childhood.
Youngster, if you haven't already guessed is an album about childhood. Thematically, Youngster, doesn't tackle the topic of childhood as a tangible object per se, but childhood as a memory filtered through the perception of a young man awkwardly lurching into adulthood. I certainly can relate. Youngster succeeds is making Richard Colado's (aka Rickolus) personal recollections of specific childhood events universally applicable everykid activities. Rickolus does this by embedding simple, childlike melodies into the backbone his songs, relaying a sense of playfulness and innocence at the structural level. Lyrics tackle childhood (obviously), growing up, and nostalgic pangs for the freedom lost with early onset adult responsibilities. Ultimately, Youngster is about moving on.
It is easy to imagine someone like Colado putting out a record like this. The well-made video for "Photograph" depict Rickolus dancing like a kid two sizes too big for his body. His arms flail aimlessly without any relation to the rest of his body, his coordination just a little off of the syncopation of the music. And on one hand, this image of a kid trapped inside of an adult's body serves the album well. It helps us pass off songs like the pirate-lullaby "Grog" as a youthful indescretion. The pre-teen, lovelorn Colado on "The Story of Love" we can chalk up to the same. But time and time again Rickolus demonstrates an incredibly deep emotional awareness on songs like "Kid" and "Photograph" in which his sentiments are very much those of an emotionally attached adult. It should be stated here that Colado plays and performs every instrument on Youngster. That is saying quite a bit. Youngster's orchestral swells, intricate back-up singing, and all together fantastic production is very, very grown up. While the core of his songs, usually performed on an acoustic guitar or piano are deceptively simple, his instrumental flourishes are steeped in complex, layered, moves. In fact, many songs rival Paper Airplane's 2007 ode to childhood and Arcade Fire-esque ballads, Boyhood, for one of the most immediate, cathartic and nostalgia filled concept albums.
Leaving for work this morning I threw this on my i pod and got half-way down the block when I realized the irony of the situation, here I was trudging, joylessly to work while listening to an album extoling the virtue of exploring and taking risks that we all did without hesitation when children. Had I really turned into one of "those" adults? I turned around, grabbed my skateboard and skated to work like I was back in middle school. Well done, Ryan.