London based electronic pop singer songwriter, Ruben, released his Only The Young EP November 4. He gained radio play with its lead single, the title track, from Eagle3 radio.
Not only is he a musician, he also has a degree in Film Production and it’s “his love of cinema that influences his music, taking on a cinematic tone that is often whimsical and also haunting”.
He lists artists such as Lana Del Rey, The Killers, Pet Shop Boys and The Smiths as influences.
Title track, “Only The Young”, opens proceedings and has piano with a tragic, final and fatalistic feel to it. The bass guitar follows that melody note for note, filling out its low end. Then the vocals are briefly adjoined with only emphatic clicking. There’s a despondency to those vocals, but also soar to transcend the problems of a generation in “…making the same mistakes”.
Ruben’s “Sad Face” also has piano opening, though in a more hopeful, striving start of a successful story vibe. Pounding of bass drum heralds bass that in itself indicates struggle and strife towards said happy ending. It really fills out the pockets of sparse drum. Yes, there’s tragedy, but there’s a sense things can be changed and that nothing’s inevitable; it’s ending suitably abrupt.
The love of a “Valentina” develops what’s now a signature piano sound. However, that vibe appears to be cut short with clapping and slightly venomous, hardened vocals. Like the loss of innocence pursuing success in life. On the other hand, the vocals are delivered via soft spoken voice, as if to convey remnants of youth within that sense of lost innocence. The bass guitar furthers this by underpinning a despondent vibe.
Things finish heart on sleeve in “Lonely City”, and is piano, yes, lead. You’re half lured into a sense of what to expect, as this song’s very much a ballad whereby the piano carries a fair chunk of the song’s duration. It’s a lament, with lines like, “I guess that I’m stuck in my ways”.
After the midpoint the bass keys of the piano really ring with that finality hinted at in the EP’s opening. A vocal refrain lures the song, more impassioned and powerful as ever, back into the majesty that ends its entirety.
Particular highlights are “Only The Young”, “Valentina” and “Lonely City”. For a four track EP, this’s an excellent return, and there’s nought much wrong with “Sad Face”, neither. The title track, and that fatalistic piano, conveys the problems of a generation. This, in turn is encapsulated in the line, “…making the same mistakes”, as if there’s a worry the young might never change.
“Valentina” is satisfying at least on a couple of fronts, one of them being comparing it to the two tracks that precede it. Like those two it opens with what appears to be that signature sound of piano, but quickly cuts short, as if to shock the listener. Then there’s the loss of innocence in those ever so slightly venomous vocals, clashing, relatively, with the innocent, softly spoken voice.
You can also compare “Lonely City” in relation to what precedes it, especially the title track. The opener begins with fatalistic piano, as does the midpoint of the closer. Good linking from opener to closer. You’re also maybe caught off guard by how much the song’s lead by piano, very satisfying. Lines like, “I guess that I’m stuck in my ways”, also convey the isolation of the track’s title, in a way.
Ruben is closely accompanied by his piano throughout the project’s duration. There’s enough variety and permutations in this to keep the listeners coming back for each song, though. He basically establishes his own sound, sticks with it and approaches his work as diversely as possible every song. Ruben’s Only The Young EP can be purchased, here.
Also visit their Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and website pages to keep tabs on Ruben.
Words by Andrew Watson