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BOTW Review: East India Youth – Total Strife Forever

2013 was big for British producers. Disclosure hit number 1 with their debut Settle and, amongst others, Mount Kimbie‘s second album shone through in the year UK producers won.
Maybe William Doyle knew something, then, when he quit his role as frontman of indie-rockers Doyle & the Fourfathers in 2012 to adopt a new moniker as East India Youth, playing intense one-man electronica.
TOTAL STRIFE FOREVER follows Doyle’s promising debut EP Hostel, and can be labelled nothing if not grand. Everything from his insistence on capital letters when mentioning his album to the four-part epic title track, this isn’t a timid step out into the world of the full-length for Doyle. In fact, rarely has confidence (note: not arrogance) been exhibited so cooly at this stage of a career.
The tracks themselves do more than back up initial impressions of the grandiose intentions of TOTAL STRIFE FOREVER. Opener ‘Glitter Recession’ is a hypnotic introduction; five minutes of apocalyptic building, rising and falling with stabbing bass that is set under an ever-changing, spiky melody.
Two of Hostel‘s three tracks also appear here, making it a familiar listen in parts for existing East India Youth fans. Their omission would feel not only unfair (Doyle’s entire career as EIY has been building up to this album), but make TSF feel disjointed, and would become a little too reliant on the throbbing instrumental tracks. ‘Heaven, How Long‘ and ‘Looking For Someone”s inclusion, then, offers something lighter, poppier and more accessible – breaking up the pulsating drones of ‘Hinterland’ and the ‘Total Strife Forever’ quartet with a cappella, ’80s dance and a soaring chorus.
‘Hinderland’ is the most experimental of TSF‘s 11 tracks, and sitting at six minutes plus, it can be the (only) place where the album threatens to be overbearing. Despite this, it does become the most rewarding track for the persistent listener, showing itself as a glitchy yet pounding number, culminating in THAT riff. It’s what club music would sound like if clubs were cool.
The scope of Doyle’s ideas and achievements on TOTAL STRIFE FOREVER is simply staggering. It is a long listen, but the ebb and flow it offers allows the (almost-)hour running time to fly by, and, besides, these sounds would feel cramped and restricted in anything less.
With most of the dance and pop packed into TOTAL STRIFE FOREVER‘s first seven tracks, the album culminates with a series of more atmospheric, downbeat songs. ‘Midnight Koto”s stabbing synths provide the most minimal moment on the record, and the final two parts of ‘Total Strife Forever’ send the album gliding off into the sunset – not with a final bang, but a nod back to the explosion that has already come and gone; a recognition of the masterpiece William Doyle has created.
- Will Richards

Total Strife Forever is available now on Stolen Recordings. You can buy it here.

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