“Hard to tell where the skies end and the water begins / All covered in sunlight and it’s not even spring.”
The opening lyrics of Young & Sick’s self-titled debut album set the tone for the rest of the work, focusing on subjective yet universal experiences of all young adults. Released in April 2014, Young & Sick combines soul, electronic and R&B music to share thoughts on love, life and adolescence.
Created by Dutch artist Nick Van Hofwegen, Young & Sick is a Los Angeles-based music and art project. While they started their career by covering full albums for major acts like Foster the People and Maroon 5 and posting the songs online, Young & Sick’s designs were featured in a fashion line by Urban Outfitters in 2012. By the winter of 2014, Young & Sick played its first live show and was announced to play at the Coachella Festival. Today, Young & Sick continues to foster their triple-threat status by creating album artwork for artists like Mikky Ekko, Robin Thicke and Maroon 5.
Despite being categorized as soul and R&B music, Young & Sick transcends these labels and combines synthetic beats with traditional instruments to create an entirely new genre. The album’s opening song, “Mangrove,” is soothing and repetitive, using simple mediums and upbeat harmonies to question life. Lyrics like “I feel the best I have in my life / Something must be very wrong” contemplate darker themes through a lighthearted instrumental.
“Counting Raindrops” uses artificial riffs to emulate rain patter, using seductive and sultry lyrics such as “Let the rain overflow and keep us here / Kiss me like you would if this was our last,” while still maintaining its electronic and R&B roots. By incorporating a funky breakdown of electric piano and guitar in the middle of the song, Young & Sick sets themselves apart from other competitors in their field.
Conversely, “Gloom” moves away from electronica and heads toward jazz, incorporating traditional soulful instruments like trumpets and saxophones into a lust filled ballad. With harmonizing falsetto and sultry lyrics, “Glass” encompasses a full swing band sound with relatively few instruments. Transitioning back into strong electronic, “Glass” uses artificial beats to musically demonstrate the feeling of falling in and out of love. The lyrics, “Don’t keep me from falling deeper in love / Pour me another lover,” demonstrate the transient nature of lust and love and vocalize a cynical view of modern dating culture.
The closing song on Young & Sick, “Twentysomething,” describes adolescence by focusing on lyrics rather than instrumentals. Getting into the mindset of a young adult, Young & Sick expresses the sentiments of many, singing, “Still not used to my skin / Loving the scars though / The cuts and bruises.” It leaves the listener with the feeling of being stuck between carefree and trapped, with one foot in adulthood and one left in childhood.
While Young & Sick’s debut album has thrust them onto music lover’s radars, their talent and ambition makes them an artist to watch. Despite their lack of name recognition, Young & Sick is forging their own path through the industry. Keep your eyes (and ears) open.