Track Review: The Back Seat // Paris Youth Foundation

Liverpudlian five piece Paris Youth Foundation have released their first single of 2021, ‘The Back Seat’. The track is a sort of sequel to previous singles, ‘Home Is Where The Heart Is’ and ‘Late Night Lost Love’, focusing on the experiences of a broken heart with nowhere to go at night.

Frontman Kev Potter said: “‘The Back Seat’ is an upbeat sad song about two people getting to grips with being on their own, trying to hide their pain with drink and how drunk calling someone and hearing their voice mail at 4 am makes you feel a little less alone. All those messages you’ve typed out, but never had the courage to send end with a sense of inevitability and the regrettable call being made in the taxi on the way home.” 

As the single begins, the lead guitar plays what will become the vocal verse riff; it’s backed by circular rhythm guitar licks and anchored on a solid, thumping and almost drum-machine-like rhythm section. After just two lines, the rhythm guitar crescendos, ushering back the lead guitar, now in unison with the vocals. As a result, a warm, laidback feeling emerges, before this is immediately ripped up by the bridge. Sudden block chords interplay with staccato lyrics like “Ah / Mate / You’ve been checking your phone”; this pattern recurs before a slick vocal solo leads us into the more laidback chorus.

The chorus itself seems solid, if a bit predictable at times in its chord structure. Still, there is a nice recall of the block chords midway through each sequence—this adds more vitality and urgency to what could have become something musically languid. Then, we’re back to the start for the second verse. This time, Paris Youth Foundation do mix things up.

The rhythm guitar arpeggios are momentarily the only accompaniment survivor in the second verse. The drums and bass do chime back in, though in a more relaxed timbre than in the first verse. We’re then welcomed back to the familiar structure for the rest of the second verse, as the lead guitar is reunified with the vocals; the bridge and the chorus then have a second airing. So far, so good. It’s a clear heartbreak story, the lyrics preferring to take a more literal rather than a metaphoric approach—this means that the general narrative is very easy to follow. 

My favourite part of the track is either the bridge or the instrumental B-section; here, the band seem tight, their instrumental harmonies are spot-on, as the lead guitar guides the rest in a Wombats-esque affair. Then, to my delight, Potter’s vocals return, this time with more spice and anguish. There’s even a slightly more metaphoric approach in the lyricism: “My head is a jungle/listen to your drunken voicemails”, before we are guided back the chorus. This time, the chorus—the track’s climax—is more refreshing. The guitar chords more resonating, and the narrative of the lyrics more meaningful, even if we have heard them before after experiencing the more psychological aspect of a breakup. To cap off the song, we get a short but familiar outro before a sudden cut-off with a punchy reverb fadeout. 

All in all, it’s a great track. It’s easy to figure out why it has already attracted significant attention, such as airplay on Steve Lamacq’s 6 Music Recommends show. Though The Back Seat’ doesn’t push the boundaries of songwriting, it excels in what it sets out to achieve: a well-constructed rock-pop ballad that maintains its energy and its narrative throughout, and even adds a deeper layer of meaning through its B-section. With all of this musical accomplishment, it would be great to see Paris Youth Foundation venture outside of the traditional realm of the ballad into more groundbreaking musical terrain. Nonetheless, there will be no complaints if they continue their solid streak of indie-pop, either. 

Paris Youth Foundation’s new single, ‘The Back Seat’, is out now on Frictionless Music.

Words by Matthew Prudham


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