There’s something very special about the construction of East India Youth’s debut LP – ‘Total Strife Forever’. Somehow, William Doyle has managed to make an album which is sporadic, indecisive and yet beautifully flowing all at the same time. With influences ranging from David Bowie and Sufjan Stevens to Factory Floor, any attempt to pigeon-hole this album into one given genre would be an insult to what is an incredibly versatile and talented display of musical understanding. ‘Total Strife Forever’ is a nostalgic throwback to 80s synth and dream pop in tracks like ‘Heaven, How Long’ and ‘Dripping Down’, whilst simultaneously sitting right on the cutting edge of contemporary techno and house in tracks like the apocalyptically climactic ‘Hinterland’. This album sounds like everyone from R.E.M. to Burial and excels most in its entirety, building and flowing while simultaneously chopping and changing, influenced in this sense by its namesake; Foals masterful ‘Total Life Forever’. Don’t let the punny title fool you though, this is no way a homage, a parody or in any other way linked to Foals; it is a deadly serious, standalone piece of work, perhaps simply influenced by the style in which Foals put together an album.
In testament to the fact that this is not an album to be dipped into lightly, the first two tracks combine to create one slowly building atmospheric introduction, before abruptly shifting into the first single ‘Dipping Down’ – one of the few songs on the album that lends itself to a single release. ‘Dipping Down’ is also one of the few tracks featuring Doyle’s trembling vocals, breaking up the dramatic instrumental numbers nicely and helping to prevent boredom for the more absent minded listener – something albums like this are often criticised for. The four-part title track is scattered throughout the album and comparable to a classical symphony. It builds and swells, before fading into static in the conclusion of what is clearly a carefully thought-out and painstakingly constructed debut LP.
At the end of the day this is an essentially electronic album despite its many deviations. The fact that it has such a broad range makes it much more transferable than the likes of, for example, Burial and Four Tet. This transferability means it’s an album that can be enjoyed by those who are perhaps not particularly interested in electronic music as well as hardcore fans. So even if it’s not necessarily your thing, give ‘Total Strife Forever’ a listen, you won’t regret it.