Multi-talented Dutch musician and visual artist Young & Sick recently released an album that is filled with soaring vocals, lush electronic synths, and emotive lyrics – a recipe guaranteed to soothe your soul as the feel-good tunes send happy shivers down your spine. BROTHER, released on B3SCI Records, is a 10-track record that is as multi-faceted and explorative as its visionary creator. Previously released singles include “ANGELS,” and “CICADAS,” but this record deserves a full run-through from top-to-bottom to really appreciate the emotion that is behind each song.
Young & Sick (Nick van Hofwegen) was born in southern Holland and attempted the traditional route of art through design school. He quickly droppped out due to its cookie-cutter leanings and soon after, by a crux of fate, comedian Andy Dick came across a apiece of his art. Nick’s friend Mark Foster had intorduced them about a week prior and suddenly, Nick had his first client. Shortly after, Mark’s own band – Foster the People – asked Nick to do the artwork for their debut album Torches in 2011.
In the decade since, Young & Sick has made original artwork for partners like Bonnaroo Festival, President Obama & The White House Creative Alliance, Burton, The FADER, and many more. He released his self-titled debut album in 2014 and last EP project, Size of Relief. He has played alongisde artists like Chance The Rapper and The Knocks and has played festivals including Coachella, Austin City Limits, and SXSW. Over the past year, he has also established himself as a pioneer in the audio/visual NFT space. He partnered with Goldflyer for an NFT fundraising campaign to benefit the National Independent Venue Association to raise money for struggling independent venues due to the COVID-19 pandemic. He will be introducing his first NFT fanclub this fall; holders will receive exclusive access to merch, shows, and other member-only perks.
His mission as an artist? To make you dance a lot and cry a little as he crooms to your soul. From its onset, BROTHER flawlessly makes listeners do both.
“BRANDY” is an angelic introductory track that uses harmonious vocals and orchestral compositions to set forth a peaceful and gentle tone. It’s a track that makes you feel like you’re floating above the subtle dance lines and between the lullaby of strings. The considerate lyrics are paired with a skip-beat reminiscent of a heartbeat, before the energy transforms into something more energetic to lead into the soulful ambiance of “MONDAY.” A more jazz-inspired tune, “MONDAY” still features stunning vocal work, still set against resonate beats with an added texture of horns. Filling in the vibrant soundscape are heart-filled lyrics of love on a Monday.
“DINNER PARTY” starts off with dinner party vibes. Soft piano chords fall behind spaced out snaps and velvety vocals that urge listeners to throw themselves a dinner party. The track gives way to a horn-based instrumental solo that would create the perfect background accompaniment. So go ahead and throw yourself that dinner party, because why not enjoy all the finer things in your life? The reflection on the human experience continues in “ONCE OR TWICE” as the lyrics croon that “We all say goodbye once or twice / To all the good things in our lives.” Although the idea of saying goodbye oftentimes comes with an inherent sad feeling, the track takes a bittersweet spin on things with its airy production and reassuring vocals.
Lush, mid-tempo burner “ANGELS” brings us to around the halfway mark. It was written Young & Sick’s bandmate and longtime music direction, Luke Woods, had a near-death touring experience. Its piano-forward composition backs the angelic vocals of MUNYA and leaves listeners with an agreeable warmth. That warmth is extended into “MIDNIGHT BLUE” which, to me, sounds like what you would imagine flickering fireflies to sound like at first. The shimmering sounds continue behind tender vocals followed by distorted strings.
Ephemeral vocals and smooth-flowing synths create a luminous soundscape in “MISSION STATEMENT.” Dazzling interjections sweep behind the encompassing production that holds a simple sway. The intense brightness of this track is so far unmatched, but also slow enough as not to overwhelm listeners. Orchestral undertones take over in “CICADAS,” paired with soaring vocals that usher in a sense of nostalgia. The production style is calming, with a slight touch of down-tempo beats. Yet there are so many elements that one can find within the subtle basslines that keeps the track exciting and energized.
Title track “BROTHER” falls in at number 9 on the track list. It combines mainstay elements that we’ve heard throughout the other tracks with a prominently touching message. Between the dynamic instrumentals and resounding beats, listeners can pull out spirited lyrics of brotherly love – “Maybe stick around, make me proud / Can’t wait to be an old bastard with you.” The track is the epitome of good vibes all around.
All of the vivid and brilliant sounds of the first 9 tracks reach a culmination in “THE LAWN.” Slower paced than its predecessors, “THE LAWN” does not disappoint on spectacle and grandeur. The slow-burn track has a previously unexplored depth. Complemented by an profoundly rich production, the vocals have more of a fleeting feeling to them now, signaling the completion of the work. It’s been a journey through soulful atmospheres swirling with gorgeous vocals and refined melodies, leaving listners with an immense feeling of fulfillment and gratitude in their hearts.
Listen to the entirety of BROTHER today!