So the theory is that a good rock’n’roll instrumental should present the perfect balance between repetition and novelty. Which is to say that I just made that up. But it sounds reasonable, right? Repetition in an instrumental gives ears otherwise accustomed to hearing words something to hang onto. Too much repetition, however, is stupefying. That’s where novelty comes in. And note that novelty does not have to mean crazy wacky outlandishness. The novelty on display throughout “Young Ends” is pretty darned subtle all in all—an interesting change in a rhythmic pattern here, an unexpected additional sound there. I think that’s what makes this song so compelling, in fact. It’s doing its thing, in repetition, and yet without its arms and standing on its head still manages to feel like a satisfying journey.
The misleading guitar line in the introduction—misleading in terms of fitting with the time signature—sets the stage for a song that wants to stick with one basic melodic motif but still slyly hold your attention. The next sneaky trick is how the main melody shifts in space between its first and second iterations. This is going to be clunky to describe, but if you listen closely to the disciplined bass and drum, you’ll see that the melody aligns one way against that rhythmic accompaniment the first time you hear it (0:21) and a different way the second time through (0:42). I wouldn’t call this profound but it’s pretty compelling; it’s something you can sense without quite being able to put your finger on it. Sounds are used in similarly subtle ways, whether it’s the slightly higher than usual register of the bass (you can hear it in particular when it emerges in a clearing at around 0:40), the offhanded infiltration of the xylophone-like sound at 1:04, or the entirely unexpected arrival of what sounds like a harmonica at 1:54, which works itself more thoroughly into the soundscape a little later. Somewhere along the way, the tenacious bass finds a more upward-oriented line to play and the entire song feels opened. By the time the voices arrive (3:24)—as ever, subtly—something like redemption seems to be at hand.
Elias Krantz is a multi-instrumentalist from Sweden. “Young Ends” is the sixth of nine tracks on his second album, Night Ice, which was released on the Stockholm-based label Country & Eastern last year. A vinyl album has been more recently released. MP3 via the artist.