Scarlet Youth is the new band of Kalle Pyyhtinen – and even though he's a very respected graphic designer who did (and still does) countless artworks for his colleagues in Finland (e.g. Entwine), most of you see him as the guitarist / 2nd mastermind of Dark Rock act Shamrain in the first place. As you all know, this once so promising and unique band (sometimes referred to as "The Finnish Coldplay") has disappeared from the spotlight for quite some time now (at least publication-wise). So, as a fan of the band it's natural to be curious about Kalle's new stuff. But to those who were building up high hopes to get another Shamrain experience with Kalle's very own band I have to say: Forget about it. Scarlet Youth is not meant to be a band in the typically Finnish vein - having German vocalist, Markus Baltes from Sidewaytown a.o., they're rather cosmopolitan.
In fact, Scarlet Youth plays very soft, gentle and keyboard-dominated Pop that can be summarized by but one word: dreamy. Sure, the stuff is melancholic, but not in that epic, majestic, dark and desperate way many other Finnish bands deliver their homecountry's "national sacrament" called melancholy. The feeling Scarlet Youth evokes is significantly lighter than what Shamrain used to represent – therefore we do justice to Kalle's new band if we let it escape from the Shamrain context.
For open-minded Metalheads / Goths Scarlet Youth surely has quite a lot of things to offer, particularly the more catchy and poppy songs ("Sofia C", "Farewell Ghosts". "I Will Be Waiting", "Sunshowers") are an amazing listening experience. They truly make you feel lighter – and at the end of the day, this is not an autumnal or wintry soundtrack but one for late August days and nights. There's a subtle premonition of the barren cold to come, but in that very moment you just cling to the warmth, the hunger for life and go with the flow – wherever it takes you.
Indeed, Scarlet Youth is quite the opposite of a Finnish Goth / Metal band mystifying its cold and dark homeplace (just as Charon, Insomnium or The Man-Eating Tree do) – Scarlet Youth delivers peaceful, gentle "travelling music", craving to escape from the desolation evoked by a typical Finnish winter.
The overall-atmosphere of the album is definitely pleasing, but even though I'm not so familiar with that kind of Shoegaze / Pop-music I've to say the album lacks dynamics unfortunately. Sure, "Farewell Ghosts" and "Sofia C" are hymnic, catchy and fast songs whereas "IWill Be Waiting" is a slow one, almost reaching Shamrain-gloom – but after all, keyboard sounds (which are very dominant) and use of vocal chords is not that much varied. Particularly in the less catchy, weaker songs ("Somewhere", "Between Summer and Spring", "Twilight Room") the lack of sounds' variation makes me wanna push the "skip" button. If the keyboard is such a dominant instrument – why didn't the guys incorporate a pure piano ballad e.g. - to widen the scale of sounds? Sure, the album is meant to be an entity (it's even divided into sub-parts "A" and "B"), but let's be honest – whenever catchiness is a major matter on an album, entitity can only be achieved through constantly great songwriting. And that's not really the case on "Goodbye Doesn't Mean I'm Gone". We have huge, enchanting melodies in here, but some tracks are significantly weaker than others. Despite of these weak spots Pyyhtinen and his boys managed to put out a good debut album that should easily become the most important of its kind in Finland – since in the Land of the Thousand Lakes they're pioneers with their refreshingly Non-Finnish sound.
But maybe we should stop talking about "Finnishness" in the music anyway. Music is universal, targeting at each and everyone in this world – and Scarlet Youth have this cosmopolitan "travelling" sound that makes you want to venture out. Inspiring you to do so, they might make you open new doors - just as they did it themselves.