The Young Tradition – Northern Drive

The Young Tradition
Northern Drive

I’m sure it seemed like a good idea for Swedish multi-instrumentalist Erik Hanspers and Japanese-American singer Brent Kenji (ex-The Fairways) to incorporate the rich melodies of 60s pop with the precious orchestrations of contemporary twee and form a new, sophisticated pop mix. But Northern Drive, the duo’s debut album, comes up short and is neither rich nor precious and contains nothing new.

While the songs do include some nice jangling guitar strumming reminiscent of 60s psychedelic pop, they lack the edge and freshness of their heritage. The twee pop orchestrations that are attempted are nice enough but do not cover anything that hasn’t been covered before and are completely ruined by jazzy bursts of brass. The vibraphone and the hushed drumming and cymbals on top of the saxophone and trumpet pulses sometimes border on fusion rather than rock or pop.

The breezy songwriting and the meshing of styles has resulted in something resembling 60s pop bubblegum with a hint of twee. The jazzy keyboards and the inclusion of short brass rhythms sounds like an attempt to create a new brand of dull adult contemporary rock-lite that swings with a tempo like “The Girl From Impanema.”

Before physically meeting to record this album, the duo released the three-song EP California Morning, which was created entirely through the international postal service. Northern Drive contains 10 songs, including the “California Morning” single, none of which are as good as the music that influenced their creation.