Album Review – Expectations – “Bye-Bye Youth”

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“I’m back in this for a reason,” says original bass player Angel Simitchiev who recently rejoined the ranks of Expectations. But that might very well be a personal statement from the band itself. After all, being an underground act provides some major advantages – no big label requires them to come up with a new record each year and thus it’s entirely up to them when to take the next step. In 2018, 4 years after releasing their second full-length, the Sofia-based quintet felt compelled, or rather – found all the right reasons to finally move forward.

What strikes one the most straight from the get-go is how emotionally charged this record is. Never a hurried affair or one of those random blasts of abrasive aggression, “Bye-Bye Youth” is musically accomplished, sternly dedicated and heartfelt. Expectations are back for a reason indeed.

Striking a balance between melancholic post-hardcore and galloping, melodic new school has always been their thing, and “Bye-Bye Youth” is no exception. Note for example how effortlessly the psychedelic, somewhat proggy intro of opener ‘Game Over’ morphs into an overtly energetic hardcore outburst about disappointment and failure. Works both ways – right after the 01:36 long stomper ‘The Spirit’ comes ‘Forever Rain’, an instrumental slab of melancholic post-hardcore.

But while ‘K.’, ‘Stop!’ and ‘War’ could very well have been outtakes from their 2012 self-titled debut, the short and very oddball, weirdly poppy ‘I’m Not For Sale’ sees Expectations experimenting with unusual song structure and vocal approach.

Being the clever band they are, Expectations save the best for last. Right after the heavy riffing and great hardcore hooks of ‘K.’ comes album closer ‘True Colours’ – the longest track and by far the best of them all, complete with even more melancholy, lyrics about persevering, overcoming and moving forward, distorted children’s choir and a very, very addictive chorus.

Way to exceed all expectations.

“Bye-Bye Youth” is out now on vinyl, CD and digitally via Straight from the Heart Records.

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