Yuck – [Album]

Thursday, 21 July 2011

I often overhear conversations, and see Facebook postings that mention how terrible modern music is, especially in comparison to the glory days of the early Nineties alt-rock explosion. While I do have fond memories of the last decade of the twentieth century and its music, I strongly disagree with this perspective. Thankfully, I have managed to refrain from angry wall postings or public outbursts about the inherent laziness of this perspective and would instead like to offer a gift to anyone who feels this way.  My gift to you is a young English band called Yuck. Yuck has just released its self-titled debut album and it sounds exactly like the best of the early Nineties insofar as it features the loud/quiet verse/chorus dynamics, male/female vocal trade-offs, fuzzy guitars with effect pedals galore and the detached slacker perspective that made the early Nineties so much fun. Yuck is doing nothing new on their debut record, but what they are doing sounds terrific and I am certain that any fans of early nineties alt rock will love this record. I would still encourage you to broaden your viewpoint try listening to some new music; but Yuck is a great starting point for anyone longing for a dose of something new that sounds like something old.  

When I think of the early Nineties alt-rock, there are a handful of bands that stand out: Dinosaur Jr., Pavement, The Pixies, Sonic Youth, Yo La Tengo, Flaming Lips, Teenage Fanclub etc. The internet has no doubt served Yuck well, as they know these bands intimately and have mixed all of their best qualities into one cocktail whose ingredients include the noisiness (feedback, guitar pedals) of Dinosaur Jr. and Sonic Youth with the sweetness of Yo La Tengo and detached aesthetic of Pavement. Part of my enjoyment with this record was trying to pin down exactly who they were ripping off on each track. I'd argue that their heaviest influence is that of Dinosaur Jr. because "Shook Down" and "Get Away" both feature the guitar heroics and fuzzy tones that defined J. Mascis' sound. There are also a handful of songs that remind me of Kim Deal's bass ("Get Away,” "Holing Out"), "Sunday" definitely recalls the poppiness of Teenage Fanclub, and the descending guitar riffs of "Georgia" recall those of The Cure, but the highlight of this record comes with the closing track, "Rubber," as Yuck builds a slow noisy groove into a very pretty chorus where the band ponders the question of whether they "should give in.”  The posing of this question comes closest to being an original thought, and may hold some relevance to listeners in the band's target age group. This is encouraging as it proves they are capable of combining their love of noisy alt rock with issues of relevance for their own generation, which was a big part of what the alt-rock explosion was about in the first place.

A big part of my memories of the early Nineties alt-rock scene include Much Music's video show The Wedge that aired promptly upon my return home from school. Yuck would have fit in perfectly as their videos for "Holing Out" and "Shook Down" are both stellar and worth checking out – although not at work, as I discovered, because they both include some nudity; which would have made them even cooler to my thirteen-year-old self.

In short, Yuck's self-titled album is a totally revivalist affair, but it doesn't matter because the band knows its way around a melody, has done enough homework to pull off this sound and scratch an itch I didn't have before listening to them. I hope that, with some time and development, they will put their own spin on their sound, but I am content to just indulge in some nostalgia and retreat to memories of my parents' basement for now.  Anyone who is permanently stuck in this mindset should enjoy this gift of a record and hopefully feel compelled to refrain from discussing the poor quality of modern music for at least a couple days after absorbing it.



Yuck is out now on Fat Possum Records. Buy it here on Amazon .

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