REVIEW: Young Jesus – The Whole Thing is Just There

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REVIEW: Young Jesus – The Whole Thing is Just There

Shannon Durazo

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Making their mark as a “philosophical jam band” in 2012, Young Jesus has gotten
progressively more experimental with each release, culminating into the perfect mix of indie-
introspectiveness outward experimentalism that is The Whole Thing is Just There. “I have begun
a nihilistic laugh/ I have begun a continuation of centuries thinking this will pass.” Croons lead
vocalist John Rossiter in the opening number “Deterritory”. Rossiter, a book store employee and
advocate of non-narcotic mushrooms, is a fuzzbox enthusiast whose post-punk lyricism
shouldn’t, in theory, mesh well with experimental nuances of keyboardist Eric Shervin,
composer and bassist Marcel Borbon, and jazz drummer Kern Haug, but somehow it does.

The Whole Thing is a 6-song, 50-minute record, with 20 of those 50 minutes allotted to
the epic closer “Gulf”. The other tracks remain in traditional 4-6 minute territory, with each
following a relatively conservative indie structure in the first two or so minutes and then
morphing into drawn-out psychedelic jams. In previous records Young Jesus allotted separate
tracks for jams and songs, but in this record that line is entirely blurred, and it is an
improvement. The more experimental sections sound spontaneous, but there is a well-rounded
confidence to them that keeps the listener engaged.

The album cycles through a range of spiraling emotions, from the dissonant anger of
opener “Deterritory”, to the heartfelt mourning on “For Nana”. My favorite moment of the album
is the transition from the chaotic, explosive ending of the spiritual-questioning “Saganism vs.
Buddhism” to the calm, humming lilt of “Fourth Zone of Gates”. It’s the moments of ethereal meets practical, calm meets disturbed that the album is most successful. Young Jesus constantly
question everything and anything on this record, specifically the common millennial-philosopher
questions of “Does anything really matter? Is what I’m doing mattering?”, a driving force behind
the manic anxieties pulverized into each track. They don’t answer these questions in the record,
necessarily, rather resorting to musical outbursts to express this emotion, and it doesn’t come out

Recommended: 1, 2, 5

RIYL: Ovlov, Spirit of the Beehive