Heavy Bored, the forthcoming sophomore album from Birmingham rockers Holy Youth, takes its title from John Berryman’s 1969 poem “Dream Song 14,” a work that starts with the declaration “Life, friends, is boring,” and doesn’t get any more optimistic from there.
That might have you anticipating a lethargic left-turn from the band on this album, which is their first since their self-titled debut was released in 2014. Thankfully, though, Heavy Bored retains the pop sensibility and gift for melodies that made that first record so great — with an added sense of confidence and cohesion that arguably makes this album an improvement on its predecessor. (It helps that the record was produced by the band’s drummer, John Paul Foster, whose production helps to highlight the catchiness of the songwriting.)
That’s very apparent on “Rave On,” the second single from the album, which is premiering exclusively through Weld. It’s one that might be unfamiliar even to Holy Youth devotees; while the band has played most of the album’s tracks extensively in their live sets for years — lead single “Crawling Home” has long served as their closer — ”Rave On” is one of the album’s few tracks that hasn’t become a staple of the band’s performances.
Expect that to change. The shoegaze-influenced track is one of the album’s best, with its tension-building guitar work echoing the anxiety of its lyrics, which at times are intended to resemble an inner monologue.
“It’s about something I’ve struggled with for a long time in a lot of different relationships and friendships,” says lead singer Chris McCauley. “[I] perceive that there are problems, whether they exist or not, and then there’s a back-in-forth in my mind of, ‘What’s really going on here?’”
When the verse gives way to the chorus, the meaning of “Rave On,” becomes apparent: it’s about talking too much. “It’s just sort of a repetitive struggle of like, ‘Am I just rambling? Am I talking too much? Am I beating this thing to death?’” McCauley says. “There are real challenges and problems or whatever, and it’s okay to be open about that, but sometimes it’s all in your head.”
“Rave On” was written by McCauley and guitarist Stuart Norman. Norman says that most of the songs on Heavy Bored were written “before the first [album] actually came out,” but McCauley adds that their songwriting process had become more collaborative between the first and the second records. (Writing for a third album is already underway.)
“On the songwriting side, we tried to vary it up a lot on the album,” McCauley says. “It feels like an outgrowth of the first record. It doesn’t sound like a totally different band, but at the same time, I think we tried to mix it up between some of the faster, driving stuff and some of the bigger, power-poppy stuff.”
Heavy Bored is slated for an April 1 release.