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The Sylvia Platters share shattered illusions on Youth Without Virtue

By Roog Kubur, July 5 2022

The rose-coloured lenses of adolescence can only be removed with retrospect, and even then there’s no guarantee that you’ll be ready to face the truth. For indie-rock band The Sylvia Platters, the bittersweet nostalgia of a childhood dominated by religion is best expressed through their music. Their newest EP, Youth Without Virtue, explores these themes with a fresh sound that you’ve never heard from them before — one full of meditative guitars and bittersweet lyrics. 

“Every benediction is a line without conviction” is the opening line of the title song of the EP, “Youth Without Virtue.” Aside from being an objectively cool line, it sets the tone for the remainder of the project. It’s a look back on their Christian upbringing, considering how they’re able to let go of some of the deep-rooted values that come with it. 

“We all grew up in a small town in Fraser Valley with Chistian upbringings, there were lots of interesting dynamics at play,” said Tim Ubels, drummer and co-lead vocalist. 

The EP was created a year into the pandemic, and that brought new dynamics to the table. The group faced a lineup change as their previous bassist left, but he was quickly replaced with Stephen O’Shea of Canadian dance-punk band You Say Party! We Say Die. 

This was in conjunction with working with Jordan Koop, renowned producer known to work with artists like Orville Peck and The Courtneys. Koop’s work on this project doesn’t go unnoticed, with him pushing the band to make slight variations to each track to add to the fullness of the song. 

“He would step into the room, shrug his shoulders and be like ‘you know that harmony you were doing? Maybe make it an octave higher,’” Ubels said about working with Koop. 

The final product is one that maintains the sound of The Sylvia Platters but with a distinctive flair. It’s a deviation from the norm, keeping the atmospheric energy but deviating from the shoegaze genre. This project is livelier and brighter, sounding more like a hot summer’s day than a cool winter’s night. 

Therein lies the essence of Youth Without Virtue — how comforting it is. The songs envelope you in the music, making each track feel personal and relatable. Even if you didn’t have the same upbringing as the band, the universality of questioning everything you thought you knew is at the forefront. At its core, this EP is about reflecting on your relationship with authority and the absolute truths that have been taught. 

In addition to the new release, the band will also be coming to Calgary in August to play at The Palomino Smokehouse. Before they come down, give their new project a listen on Bandcamp, Apple Music, Spotify and wherever else you stream music. 

Roog’s recommendation: “Pristine Disarray” for lyrics that will make you want to curl up in a ball.

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