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Alcopop! may have been formed in Oxford, but the heart of at least one of us belongs in the Midlands, so it was no surprise that having signed Birminghan’s greatest indie champions (johnny foreigner for the unititiated), that we long dreamt of getting Youth Man to town. Formed in 2012 and following tour dates with the lines of Trash Talk, Letlive., TIGERCUB and more, Youth Man have gained a host of praise from national press including NME, Rolling Stone Magazine, Alternative Press, Rock Sound, Kerrang!, Drowned in Sound, DIY and BBC Radio 1 – all well-deserved too!

Previously signed to Venn Records, owned by fellow punks Gallows, to date the band have released three previous EPs–Bad Weather (2013), Hill of Knives (2015) and Wax (2017). Following the departure of bassist Miles Cocker late last year, founding members Kaila Whyte (guitar and vocals) and Marcus Perks (drums) have found a renewed sense of purpose in their reincarnation as a duo, with their live set up now completed by long time friend Meesha Fones (bassist from Birmingham contemporaries Dorcha), keeping the band’s stage dynamic and sound as visceral as ever.

With their music now solely creatively driven by the pair during both the writing and recording process, there’s a new urgency and focus to their output that’s seen them re-prioritising where their energy is best spent, resulting in the experimental, sharpened and bristling new Youth Man sound evident on Five Songs. (clue: There are Five Songs on it)

After a heavy live schedule that's seen them ploughing all over the globe for the past five years at a whole host of festivals, dive bars and then increasingly larger venues, the Youth Man touring experience has been an intense pressure cooker of an environment which has added fuel to the fire of their often anxious, twitching agitpunk.

Recording the EP with old friend Mark Gittins at Megatone Studios in Digbeth, Birmingham, the band utilised his indepth knowledge of their working process and sound to the max, and took full avantage of the space on offer - a quirky unit full of weird and wonderful bits and pieces of equipment. There’s a shaker on 'Valley Girl' that was made from a mic windscreen filled with thumbtacks and covered in gaffa tape, along with various bits of African percussion that were threaded through the recordings after they were found knocking about during sessions.

This time around the band have moved away from their punk influences and are exploring fresh dynamics - elements of hiphop rub shoulders with old guitar pop and The Knack-era rock, and the funk breaks of Parliament and Funkadelic. The lyrics have been streamlined - there are less direct political outpourings for a start - but as Perks is quick to clear up, "That's not to say we’re no longer politically vocal. I just didn’t feel like bashing on about it so much this time because I spent most of last year drinking and partying too much and feeling sorry for myself. Each one of the songs on this record is either about being drunk, ill, sad or pissed off, because 2017 sucked."

It seems as if the Youth Man of 2018 is a very different beast to the one that's gone before - moving to a new label, with a refocused approach to songwriting and a keen desire to widen and deepen their sound, are they now presenting the most distilled version of the band we've heard to date?

"We absolutely are distilling our sound," they state emphatically. "We’re really, really bored with just making bangy shouty music all the time. Miles was still in the band whilst we were recording and mixing the record, and between the three of us we just wanted to make something that would sound wicked coming out of your speakers. A sonic adventure, if you will."

And on that note, Five Songs - with it's gospel choirs, African percussion, rhythm and blues drawl, and disparate jazz influences - is about as adventurous as it gets for what was once a punk band from Birmingham, and is now becoming a constantly evolving, unknowable pleasure with each new release.

Mission accomplished, then.