Lust For Youth – ‘Lust For Youth’ review

Line-up changes and maturity have transformed the Copenhagen band. They now sound like The Smiths via Pet Shop Boys, which turns out to be their sweet spot. Well, how could it not be?

Lust For Youth’s last album, 2016‘s ‘Compassion’, was the culmination of years of evolution. Back in their early days, when the band was still the visceral solo project of Swedish musician Hannes Norvinde, their harsh, industrial music sounded like Trent Reznor feeding his own hands through a meat grinder in the bowels of the Hacienda: unnerving and ruined, yet danceable.

The Copenhagen band are now unrecognisable. In the intervening years they’ve been through lineup changes, expanding to a trio, and started writing ’80s-inspired synth bangers, buffed to a glossy finish. Both ‘Compassion’ and 2014’s ‘International’ sounded like the band had been listening to New Order’s ‘Power, Corruption & Lies’ on a loop. Their self-titled seventh album is more of the same.

Following the departure Loke Rahbek, Lust For Youth are now a duo, and from start to finish this feels like an album where Norvinde and Malthe Fischer are putting down roots rather than constantly tweaking, reinventing and polishing. Dousing their most euphoric moments in gloom has become their calling card, but opening track ‘New Balance Point’ and ‘Insignificant’ are as warm and dreamy as a Balearic sunset, bathed in bright-eyed optimism.

Highlights ‘Venus De Milo’ and ‘Great Concerns’ are far more on-brand, the former as cool and cold as white marble, while the latter wraps frustration at human carelessness up in shiny synths and chiming guitars: “Reject climate change… What will it take?  / A flood over Europe? A Fist in the face?” On bittersweet closer, ‘By No Means’, when Norvinde croons, “You’re always happy to talk about your misery, your sentiments are tainted, a compliment from you would insult me”, it comes off like The Smiths via The Pet Shop Boys, and would have both Bernard Sumner and Peter Hook swooning.

On their last album, if you strained your ears, you could still hear scraps of the band’s dark, warped beginnings buried amongst the sleek instrumentation. On ‘Lust For Youth’, there’s no sign of that. Crystalline, slick and glistening, this feels like the last piece of a puzzle slotting into place, the tying off of any loose ends. It’s the sound of a band operating firmly, and finally, in their comfort zone.