What are the dreams of a youth that never makes time to rest? For Yung frontman Mikkel Holm Silkjær, a Danish DIY figurehead who has left a catalogue of cassettes and self-produced songs in his wake, the goal seemed to be recording, and living, as fast as possible. Since he began to record music as a teenager (his father put him behind a drum set when he was 4), slow hasn’t been his preferred speed. Writing and performing songs filled with gritty guitar and driving rhythms that snap like a live wire, he’s been busy channelling the electric drive of youth, creating brief, flashing sonic portraits of his life in Aarhus, the country’s gritty, industrial second city.
That makes the music on the reflective A Youthful Dream, the debut album from Yung, such a revelation. Angst makes space for wisdom, youthful exuberance begins channelling road-tested experience, and a blur of basement shows and self-produced bromides becomes something more. DIY doesn’t mean unrefined, it just means personal. And at a point where inertia made way for introspection, Silkjær showcased a new degree of songwriting craft and and sonic experimentation, and a new perspective on everyday life and young adulthood.
“I didn’t think a lot about what was going to happen with those earlier songs, I just wanted to create and talk about my life,” he says. “This time, it was all about the process.”
Where the previous releases such as These Thoughts Are Like Mandatory Chores found Silkjær masterfully running through buzzsaw riffs, recalling The Replacements and Jay Reatard, A Youthful Dream finds Silkjær reshaping his DIY vocabulary and experimenting with a larger sonic palette, in ways that may make fans do a double take. Richer melodies, pianos, and even trumpets made their way into the recording sessions at Sound Studio in Sweden, where Silkjær, Frederik Nybo Veile (drums) and Tobias Guldborg Tarp (bass) decamped with a handful of guest musicians. Consider the airy, self-referential “The Child,” a reverie or languid guitar lines punctuated by a horn line; the mid-tempo swagger of “Uncombed Hair,” suddenly amping up without losing control; or the slow build of “The Hatch,” its anthemic scope and chugging drums lines showing a new compositional mastery without losing the immediacy and energy of past efforts.
Coming from a musical family in the punk rock capital of Denmark, Mikkel rejected any musical involvement at first, essentially not wanting to be like his dad. As the punk prodigy became more and more a part of the local scene—developing an admiration for local cult legends Cola Freaks, playing in Urban Achievers and Happy Hookers For Jesus, creating a cottage industry for local bands via his Shordwood Records label, and finally recording as Yung—his songwriting skills grew, maintaining the feverish energy while perhaps losing some of the childlike carefreeness of the past. After more than a decade of writing songs (he's now 21), he’s grown bored with other people’s perception of what “punk” means, and his ambitions and songwriting have evolved. Always on the move and in the moment, Silkjær has created a musical step forward, while pausing to consider and reflect on the past.
“For me, Yung has always equalled total freedom,” says Mikkel. “I don’t want Yung to be a band that you can put certain labels on. I wish for it to be a project that can principally go in any given direction”.