Taylor Young Band – Mercury Transit: Album Review

The Taylor Young Band. Jangly, urgent, light and refreshing – from Dallas, Texas, with love

Release Date:  8th October 2021

Label: Hand Drawn Records

Formats: CD, Vinyl, Download & Stream

My interest was certainly piqued by the plaudits that accompanied the press pack for this debut album from Dallas power-pop outfit, The Taylor Young Band.  Likened to The Byrds, Big Star, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, Teenage Fanclub and The Smiths, amongst others, The Taylor Young Band sounded like fun – even before I’d heard a note of what they’ve got to offer…

And what they’ve got to offer is a collection of ten jangly, urgent, light, refreshing tunes with simple yet fascinating lyrics that recount the life and challenges of being a working musician, of severed relationships and of lost opportunities.  And those flattering comparisons are pretty accurate too – Mercury Transit is an album that is brim-full of punchy rhythms and jangly guitars, and, if I can add The La’s to that list of soundalikes, then I think you’ll have a good idea of what to expect.  Mercury Transit is like an album full of variants on There She Goes.

Taylor Young has certainly served his apprenticeship.  He first emerged onto the Dallas music scene in Y2K as the drummer with psychedelic adventurers Hi Fi Drowning and contributed to that band’s Round The Rosa album.  His drumming style, described as “frenetic-yet-flawless” attracted attention and was rewarded with stints on the drum stool with Young Heart Attack and The Polyphonic Spree.  In 2008, Taylor took the decision to step out from behind the kit to assume the role of frontman in The O’s – the folk-country duo he formed with banjo player John Pedigo.  The O’s made four albums, including their 2013 debut, Thunderdog and 2016’s Honeycomb.

And now, he’s moved on and changed direction once again.  For this latest venture, Taylor has teamed up with esteemed guitarist, vocalist and producer Toby Pipes (formerly of Calhoun, Deep Blue Something and Little Black Dress), guitarist Michael Smith and drummer Austin Green with the express intention of “evolving and expanding the Americana dream-pop sound” with The Taylor Young Band.  And Mercury Transit gets that mission off to a resounding start.

The band signal their intention right from the start with album opener, the bouncy Get Around.  Described as “…sounding like Alex Chilton fronting Teenage Fanclub,” it’s as clear a statement of intent as it’s possible to make.  The equally jaunty Make You Wanna Stay is the first of the album’s tracks to explore the repeated theme of a doomed relationship; entertainingly wordy, I particularly like Taylor’s assertion to his partner that “I’m the only ‘only one’ for you.”

The comparison to The Byrds is never more apt than in Shine on Me, a song drenched in 12-string guitar licks and lyrics that offer a statement of commitment to a “cosmic eternal destiny,” whilst Blue Eyed is fast, tight and rocky with the simplest, most direct lyric on an album characterized by its simple, direct lyrics.  Lead single, Rattled, is described as a song that “wraps a Tom Petty style ballad in a cosy shoegaze blanket.” I don’t know about that, but it’s certainly great fun – anthemic with a throbbing bassline and hints of psychedelia.

Taylor bemoans the routines and pressures facing a working musician in the excellent Daze Of The Week.  Frantic and breathless with strummed guitars dominating, it’s one of the album’s real highlights and the life-as-a-musician theme is continued in Five Cents, a well-structured song with an interesting lyric to go with the usual jangly guitars and loping bass accompaniment.

Perhaps the album’s outstanding track – for its lyric that deals with another doomed romance and for the nice decorative guitar licks – is Wrong Place, Wrong Time.  Despite the less-than-happy subject matter, it’s a happy, enjoyable song and an obvious choice for the album’s next single (I’d suggest…)  …But it’s a close-run thing because Out Of My Mind is another excellent song that also deals with a lapsed relationship.  Out Of My Mind has what is probably my favourite of the album’s lyrics – they certainly get right to the point with their accurate description of a situation and a set of emotions that most of us will have experienced at one time or another.

So – how do you bring an album of such jangly, urgent, light and refreshing tunes to a satisfactory close?  Well – there’s only one way really… with a drinking song.  And Mercury Transit’s closing track, Drinkin’, fits the bill perfectly.  A boozy tune, a boozy lyric and a boozy delivery, Drinkin’ is another bouncy number that hints at the good times that alcohol can stimulate, but carries a stark warning of the perils and consequences of reckless indulgence.  It’s easy to imagine Taylor and the guys ending a concert in a crowded, raucous bar-room with this song, and it’s a great way to end an enjoyable album.

Watch the official video of Shine On Me – a track from the album – here:

Taylor Young Band Online: Website/ Facebook/ Twitter/ Instagram

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