Announces Self-Titled Debut Album due 4th November on Libertino Records
Shares two lead singles, “Newid” and “Caneuon”
The news we’ve longed for, very excited to share the news that YNYS will release the highly anticipated self-titled debut album due 4th November via Libertino Records. For the last few years, the collection of singles that have been shared from YNYS have truly enthralled the idea of a record, and finally the announcement is here.
YNYS is the solo outing of Welsh songwriter Dylan Hughes, previously known for psychedelic pop band Race Horses. His debut full-length is a bold return, the album’s ambitious sound palette journeying from Big Star power pop to Beach House via cinematic strings and Italo disco synthesizers from 1981, sung in Welsh and English.
A lot of the songs wrestle with Hughes’ move back to Aberystwyth from Cardiff; home from home, city to rural, the idea of thriving urban activity, and the stillness of a rural seaside hometown. “Moving on but trying to get back to somewhere,” he shares.
Along with the announcement, YNYS shares two fantastic new songs from the forthcoming album, titled “Newid” and “Caneuon”. Listen to both streaming below:
“Newid” (which translates as “Change”) was influenced by the Ethiopiques compilations of 1960s Ethiopian Jazz, and in particular Mulatu Astate, plus some Ennio Morricone and The Byrds influences. “I used a lot of engineer Frank Naughton’s new reverb unit on this track and the Sax section features heavily. It’s about people and places changing – awful modern developments replacing much loved independent cultural spaces”.
“Newid” commences with one of the most distinguished and plentiful intros you’ll hear, compelled from the get-go you are in for a wild ride. This ambitious landscape hurtles into focus with this rapid commitment which shifts with a fierce, dramatic turn. Allured into the auspicious atmosphere which just feels mighty on all levels, the listener finds themselves hooked on the expressive nature of this release. Continuously building the structure and adding so many immersive elements, YNYS has perfected this experimental halcyon. Affectionate harmonies and lyrics shine amongst the fabric of this ensemble. Delicate keys and powerful wind instruments help direct the track to the explosive shift in dynamics towards the finale when suddenly this western-inspired guitar tone emerges and adds this vivacious surge.
As the release explores the cathartic crescendo of the journey, pulling out all of the stops with layer upon layer of new instrumentation additions and countless hooks and tweaks, YNYS proudly displays this flawless ability to craft deep pocket grooves that highlights the energy of this artist. This vast composition is built upon the use of such crucial and varying elements and the track exudes an electrifying performance.
“Caneuon” (which translates as “Songs”), “references ‘Gegin Nos’ by Gorky’s Zygotic Mynci, one of my favourite bands,” explains Hughes, “but it’s not really about any song in particular. It’s that feeling when you unexpectedly hear a song you haven’t heard for years, and it hits you for six and it takes you right back to a certain time/place. Suddenly you’re 8 years old again waiting in line to go on the ghost train.”
YNYS immediately engages the audience amongst this compelling current and tonality which relishes in nostalgia, a feel-good familiarity found in the buoyancy of the tone that springs into focus. That familiarity is captured within the warmth of the instrumentation, as the notes collide with drum shuffles and immense rhythms. The melody from YNYS enters the atmosphere, adding a personal touch, further adding to the infectious attributes of this creation.
As YNYS takes the audience on this nostalgic voyage, the lyrics and the affection that resonates build up that melancholic movement. This certain vulnerability shimmers amongst the psychedelic pulse that intensifies throughout, whilst the emotion laces the atmosphere the release explores further melodic bursts and rich textures.
Of the new release-
Ynys (un-iss) means island. Dylan Hughes grew up in Aberystwyth, West Wales. It’s a place visualised by the steep incline down to the bay, and beyond it is the sea, where you are constantly reminded that you are at the edge of an island. There’s nothing on the horizon, the next stop being Ireland. Dylan would often think about that vastness, and “the moonlit sea” he grew up watching. Then he moved to Cardiff, Wales’ epicentre. Bustling, built-up, and busy.
While in Cardiff, Dylan spent his time playing synth in psychedelic pop band Race Horses. Across those years of gigging and touring, Dylan had been dropping memos and notes on his phone. Hundreds of them. Any and every melody, idea, and thought he had an itch to document. When the band ended and Dylan had fallen back into “normal life”, as he calls it, the need to revisit those memos bubbled and bubbled. “I didn’t really have an intention for them, but they were there, and they kept me in touch with making music.” Dylan says. Eventually, he committed to a weekend at a recording studio. Tŷ Drwg, in Grangetown, Cardiff – “with Frank Naughton, who is a bit of a genius engineer. He has an extremely varied discography and all these interesting instruments and synths always at the ready when you need some inspiration,” Dylan says. The weekend was spent revisiting past memories, being reinspired by his own former creativity, a creativity that he had felt he lost.
He hadn’t lost a thing. A few songs came out of the weekend, and found their way to Libertino Records. Ynys was born. A solo project, and a release for these songs that Dylan needed to get off his chest (or phone, at least). Then lockdown hit. The space and time allowed Dylan to really tap into these songs, to look at why they existed, to think about and pull and push them apart until they were whole and discovered. Introspective exploration. The beginnings of an album began to brew, a few singles slowly dripped through the pandemic. The deep consideration and obsessive exploration of sounds and themes gained an extra complexity when Dylan moved back home.
“It only really became clear after the process of writing lyrics down for the album sleeve but, I think a lot of the songs wrestle with that idea of moving back to Aberystwyth from Cardiff. Moving on but trying to get back to somewhere.” Dylan says.
Home from home, city to rural, the idea of thriving urban activity, and the stillness of a rural seaside hometown. This contemplation can be heard on Môr Du (Black Sea), which was recorded over a two year period. “Môr Du is about missing that midnight sea. I think at the time I thought it was a song about moving on, now I think it’s actually a bit of a leaving the city song. You can go months in the city without seeing the sea.” Dylan says.
“I‘d been thinking about moving home for a while. There was plenty of doubt, at least half the album was written before I’d made any decision.” Dylan says. The album’s narrative aligns with this. Throughout vast and timeless soundscapes take you on a journey of self-discovery. Welcome to the Island might best capture this, despite being instrumental beyond the whisper of ‘welcome to the island’. “I was trying to channel The Prisoner, that 60s TV show which was filmed in Portmeirion, it gave this kind of weirdness which grows and grows in the song.”
The strangeness isn’t eerie, it’s a unique capture of being both meditative and Bond-levels cinematic at once. A main-character moment which borrows sounds instinctively from psychedelic pop to Ethiopian jazz, via arena style guitar melodies. Similar sounds feature through the album, as well as unfashionable Italo disco synthesisers from 1981 “that were laying about”. The result is a precise record with a clear narrative arc, yet full of transition and clash. The unpredictable but guaranteed pull and push of a tide, waves of ideas, Welsh and English. Lyrically large existential questions are a theme too. When do you know? Have you got the answer? Are you going to wait forever? Despite doubt, there is also undeniably an optimism across the record. “The music is definitely about reconnecting. It’s easy once you stop doing something for a bit for the tide to drag that into years of time. Your confidence goes. That’s where I was for some time. But a few well-meaning friends basically made me confront the fact that I needed to do this.” Dylan says.
“I felt a lot of freedom making this record. There was a pull toward doing this for me. Even if I was fighting it for a few years. Once I started recording, dusting off the old synths and layering the harmonies I quickly felt the muscle memory return.” The breath of fresh air in Dylan’s life is reflected in the music.
The album’s ambitious sound palette takes you on a journey from Big Star power pop to Beach House via cinematic strings. Dylan’s melodic gift and adventurous playful song craft has conjured a rich collection of melancholic off-kilter psychedelic pop songs that mirror the vulnerability, yet assured creativity of alternative touchstones such as Velvet Underground, Elliot Smith and Teenage Fan Club.
More specifically to Dylan’s sound though, listening to the album is to imagine yourself recovering breath at the top of the cliff, the row of four and five-story houses on our left, and the expansive sea in front of you. The wind, the crashing of waves, the stillness and the birds replaced by Ynys’ dramatic, spacious, psychedelic, and above all, an instinctive personal musical landscape.
1. Môr Du
2. Mae’n Hawdd
4. Tro Olaf
5. Welcome to the Island
6. There’s Nothing the Sea Doesn’t Know
7. When Do You Know
8. Aros am Byth