“To Be Young” is so insidiously appealing that anything that might cause some possible trouble here (copping half a melody from the Pretenders “Don’t Get Me Wrong”; intermittently affected vocal style) is neutralized by the soaring success of its pure pop songiness.
A deep-noted guitar lick both launches and anchors the piece. Note how swiftly the music moves even as the lyrics take their time; both in the verse and the chorus there are at least two brisk measures of music between every single lyrical line. This creates a built-in anticipation for each subsequent line—as listeners, we kind of lean in, waiting. This kind of structural delayed gratification is reinforced by melodies that deliver their payoff on the back end. For instance, the verse hook (or, maybe, not so much a hook as a “moment”) is the repeated melody at the end of the line (in the first verse (0:34), it’s the same lyric too: “My head don’t feel right”). In the chorus, as much as the ear is lured in by the opening salvo (“It’s too early”), the song, to my ears, triumphs by nailing the landing, as it were—with the lines “‘Cause we were young/And hopeless,” with that slightly hesitant melisma on the word “young,” the notes of which repeat on “hopeless,” and the music separating them out while we wait, and wait, for the resolution. This comes, actually, only with the transition back to the verse. The song moves on, briskly.
Two Wounded Birds are a quartet from Margate, in the UK. They have previously released an EP and a couple of singles. “To Be Young” is from the band’s self-titled debut album, set for release in June on the Holiday Friends Recording Co., a label co-founded by Jacob Graham of the Drums and now part of the French Kiss Records family. MP3 via Austin Town Hall.