Young & Sick started off as a one-man art project whose main claim to fame involved designing album artwork for popular musical acts such as Maroon 5 and Foster the People, but project founder Nick Van Hofwegen has recently decided to branch out and start producing music under the same moniker. The Continuum EP consists of four songs that had already been released as singles, but putting them together may have been a mistake.
Opening track Continuum has a down-tempo beat combined with ethereal keyboards and multi-tracked female vocals. The lyrics make it an anguished love song using water and drowning as metaphors for a strained, possibly doomed, relationship. It sounds decent enough at first but doesn’t hold up well beyond its ever-so-slightly remarkable hook.
House of Spirits is more subtle than Continuum but otherwise reuses enough of the same qualities (including the lyrics’ use of drowning as a romantic metaphor) that it still feels especially unoriginal. There is a synthesiser line towards the end that’s sort of engaging, but it’s too little too late for what is definitely the weakest track here.
Magnolia might be the best track on this release, but that doesn’t seem to be saying much. The vocals certainly sound more compelling, although that may be because of how much they sound like St. Vincent. The hook bears similarities to the one on Continuum in its use of multiple layers of vocals and might actually utilise that technique better. The song is further distinguished by the fact that the lyrics invoke fire metaphors instead of water metaphors for a change.
Willow closes things on an extremely passable note as it provides yet another example of down-tempo R&B with blandly pleasant keyboards and layered vocals. It doesn’t do anything the previous songs didn’t, but in term of quality it’s probably the second-weakest track here.
The Continuum EP was first released just a few days after Young & Sick’s self-titled full-length debut came out. Though I haven’t listened to the full-length album as of writing, releasing them so close together suggests a deliberate attempt to invite “before-and-after” comparisons between the old singles and the new album. While most of these tracks may have served as decent standalone singles (House of Spirits being the exception), when sequenced back-to-back on this EP it really showcases the lack of variety on offer and weakens the EP as a whole. Nick Van Hofwegen may have made a name for himself designing artwork for other musicians, but the songs on this EP suggest he still has plenty of room for improvement when it comes to his own tunes.