Anthony Green’s Young Legs is a feel-good album. That is, relative to his heavier, moodier work with the Philly-based rock band Circa Survive it “feels good.” Green sings of serious stuff here: love and loss, romance and disillusionment, solipsism and the pathetic realization that the world does not revolve around oneself. But the music, which conveys tenderness and nostalgia, is a pleasant delivery system for Green’s sometimes bitter distillate.
Young Legs is a curious cocktail. Just when you think it is a straight forward alt-rock album, you taste the arousing tincture of some exotic ingredient. “100 Steps,” for instance, has in its DNA the same strands of soul-soothing Mbaqanga music that Paul Simon embraced in his classic Graceland. Similarly, “Anytime” is heavily influenced by reggae; Green offers a very affecting reggae-rock hybrid with crisp percussion and delayed guitar that falls languidly from the upper atmosphere like exploded fireworks. Then, a catching chorus follows, full of longing, as he simply sings, “Anytime you want me, I’ll be there.” This is a stand out track that cuts deeply despite its jovial tone, and a perfect example of the infusion of heartbreak and beauty which permeates Young Legs.
The album’s instrumentation is rock solid and tightly balanced, thanks to Green’s backing band, the Philadelphia troop Good Old War. The piano plays an outstanding part throughout the record, leading the way with bold and resonant strokes. But no instrument ever talks over the others. In full-bodied tracks like “Shine” and the title song, each player contributes something distinctive yet complimentary. As a result, the album sounds whole and clear, each song connecting well with the next, and thus with the ears.
The band, however, does take a few breaks. For example, “Conversation Piece” and “Stolen” are love songs played on good old-fashioned acoustic guitar with no accompaniment: hauntingly beautiful vocal harmonies set around Green’s grievous voice. It’s in these stripped down, intimate moments that the wounded heart of the record is laid bare. If it weren’t for moments like this, one might not fully realize how much this sweet and charming album is really hurting inside.