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Charlie Simpson - Young Pilgrim Album Cover
Author's Rating
Vocals 10
Musicianship 9.75
Lyrics 10
Production 10
Creativity 9.5
Lasting Value 10
Reviewer Tilt 10
Final Verdict: 99%
Member Ratings
Vocals 9.67
Musicianship 9.67
Lyrics 9.58
Production 9.67
Creativity 9.63
Lasting Value 9.67
Reviewer Tilt 9.67
Average: 97%
Inside AP.net

Charlie Simpson - Young Pilgrim

Reviewed by: anamericangod (09/13/11)
Charlie Simpson - Young Pilgrim
Record Label: PIAS Recordings
Release Date: August 15, 2011


Charlie Simpson may not be a man known particularly well this side of the Atlantic. His previous projects, Busted and Fightstar, have been both commercial and critical successes in the United Kingdom, yet they maintain a profile nearly entirely off the radar in the United States. While there are differences between acts that rise to prominence in the UK and acts that become popular in America, Simpson has the qualities to transcend those cultural boundaries. Blame it on marketing, promotion, whatever you will. The music and the talent speaks for itself. Simpson is not merely a regional act, but rather a singer-songwriter powerhouse that with each release, be it with a band or as an individual, has progressed in a dramatically impressive manner. The last album from Fighstar peaked at number 20 on the UK charts even though it was released on an independent label. With Fightstar on hiatus, Simpson delved into a personal project for which he could hone his writing and showcase his dynamic vocal ability, albeit in a style dramatically outside of what he'd come to be known for.

This project would come to be Young Pilgrim.

At its core, Young Pilgrim is an emotional juggernaut. The record begins with the gentle guitar work of "Down Down Down," quickly evolving into a showcase of Simpson's ability to captivate with nothing but his voice, be it in a smooth, hushed tone, or a soaring, anthem-like melody. The track fades out, and segues into the first single off the album, "Parachutes." A rapid-fire, David Gray-esque drum tap hits hard and hits fast, bringing the listener to full attention after being deceptively lulled by the opener. With "Parachutes," Simpson coordinates an attack of strings, drums, and melody to form a simple, yet remarkably elegant song that for a single has an impressive and rather uncommon amount of skill and complexity behind it. Layers of music and words merge together as Simpson cries out "I'm so sorry for the pain, sorry for the ache, sorry for the moods I'm swinging/But I don't need your hand, I don't need your heart, I don't need a parachute." The lyrics take a very "heart on sleeve" approach, but avoid any hint of immaturity or triteness, and are delivered with Simpson's powerfully unique vocal style, which is often all that is needed to carry a song.

The record continues with a mix of ambiance, varied guitar work, lush soundscapes, layered vocal arrangements, and numerous moments where Simpson's voice rises above everything else that might be happening in the song. "All At Once" features prominent dual vocals, and Simpson's lyrics continue to hit intensely with lines like "I just hoped that I would know you, and I would never have to walk this world alone." Rhythmic drums draw the listener in on "Thorns," while Simpson weaves in and out of a crooning delivery and a near falsetto. "Suburbs" retains a dark feel, all the while staying catchy almost to the point of being sing-songy. "If I Lose It" is perhaps best described as a funeral hymn for a man coming to terms with the pain of a relationship he simply could not save, and after a crashing wave of cymbals, Simpson descends from the mountain of emotion he has built, and with what sounds as if it is being uttered with the last bit of strength he has left within him, he simply states "I can't tell you what will happen to us as the days pass, please just stay with me." The album closes with "Riverbanks," and with a little bit of everything heard in the previous tracks on the record, Simpson crafts a closer that brings the album full circle with the heartfelt and hopeful repetition of "Just open your eyes, something beautiful is happening."

Young Pilgrim is an album of heartache and loneliness, an album of love and hope, and an album of looking back and moving forward. For a release with 14 tracks, there is no dull, blending of tracks in monotonous fashion or even a shadow of repetitiveness. The record combines everything from delicate guitar picking to soaring, anthem-like vocals. Each song manages to stand out on its own, while the album is arranged with such precision and fluidity that it is a rare example of a legitimately full and complete record, compared to the usual mix and match of singles and filler. Young Pilgrim is a collection of songs so stunningly emotional, delivered in such a sincere manner, the album is not one which is merely listened to, but an album which is experienced. An album that you really, truly feel.

Perhaps Charlie himself summarized the album best with the final lines of "Riverbanks."

Just open your eyes. Something beautiful is happening.

9.75/10

Recommended If You LikeSinger-songwriters, Death Cab For Cutie, Cassino, Pete Yorn, Explosions In The Sky, music with heart.
 
Displaying posts 1 - 15 of 41
06:05 PM on 09/13/11
#2
cwhit412
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I love how every Joe review is either a fanboy review or a sad fanboy review.
06:07 PM on 09/13/11
#3
anamericangod
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I love how every Joe review is either a fanboy review or a sad fanboy review.
Not quite.

I'm not going to bother reviewing something nowadays that I don't feel strongly about, positive or negative.
06:54 PM on 09/13/11
#4
cwhit412
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Not quite.

I'm not going to bother reviewing something nowadays that I don't feel strongly about, positive or negative.
There's a difference between feeling strongly and over the top gushing.
07:15 PM on 09/13/11
#5
vivatoto56
EB was left out
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I love your awesomely positive reviews. Makes for a great read, and I've agreed with all of them.

EDIT: But it makes me think you thought Mansions was trash, haha.
08:15 PM on 09/13/11
#6
Ryan Gardner
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Just gave this record a listen based on this review.

WOW so good/really good review, Joe
08:26 PM on 09/13/11
#7
Shakriel
I just need reassurance.
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Really love this album. It has been dominating my plays since it came out.
12:37 AM on 09/14/11
#8
Thomas Nassiff
resuscitation of the year
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This album absolutely blew me away when I first listened. Unfortunately I got away from it, but I'll have to get back into it soon. I wonder if this is on vinyl. If it's not...Joe....ahem....
03:42 AM on 09/14/11
#9
ilovesofie
was I good to you, wife of my youth
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I adore this album.
03:49 AM on 09/14/11
SpyKi
This Charming Man
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Oh hell yeah. I love seeing this album get a lot of love from people on this site.
04:22 AM on 09/14/11
punkrockmedic
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Reading about how awesome this album is depressing. Stuck in Afghanistan. Is this ever going to be released digitally in the U.S.?
06:20 AM on 09/14/11
Anton Djamoos
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Album is fantastic. Give Charlie Simpson your money...he deserves it.
01:52 PM on 09/14/11
anamericangod
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This album absolutely blew me away when I first listened. Unfortunately I got away from it, but I'll have to get back into it soon. I wonder if this is on vinyl. If it's not...Joe....ahem....
I'm actually doing what I can to work on that. Communicating with people in the UK isn't the easiest of things.
Reading about how awesome this album is depressing. Stuck in Afghanistan. Is this ever going to be released digitally in the U.S.?
Send me a PM.
Adore is one of the best words to describe how I feel about this record.
Just gave this record a listen based on this review.

WOW so good/really good review, Joe
Good to see you like it. Do a search on YouTube for "Skin and Bones." Amazing b-side.
I love your awesomely positive reviews. Makes for a great read, and I've agreed with all of them.

EDIT: But it makes me think you thought Mansions was trash, haha.
Like I said, I don't have much reason to review something mediocre. I'm either going to praise something that really reminds me of why I love music as much as I do, or I'm going to be a critic and give my thoughts on a band that's falling apart.
Album is fantastic. Give Charlie Simpson your money...he deserves it.

I'm glad you enjoy it. You're the only other person I know that's a fan of Fightstar. So damn good.
02:43 PM on 09/14/11
BornUnderPunches
I am not a dirty god
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nice
02:58 PM on 09/14/11
vivatoto56
EB was left out
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Like I said, I don't have much reason to review something mediocre. I'm either going to praise something that really reminds me of why I love music as much as I do, or I'm going to be a critic and give my thoughts on a band that's falling apart.

I approve entirely of that method.

Also, I saw you mentioned Skin and Bones. That's actually my favorite song from his solo work.
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