Yuck – [Album]

Saturday, 26 November 2011

Yuck's self-titled debut proves beyond the shadow of a doubt that all artistic trends in pop music are cyclical in nature. The proof of that can be seen pretty clearly if one stands back and looks at the shapes guitar-driven rock has taken over the last twenty-five years; in the late Eighties and early Nineties, underground rock bands like Soundgarden, Pavement, Sonic Youth, The Lemonheads, Sebadoh and Screaming Trees all took ideas and inspiration from the likes of The Beatles, Black Sabbath, The Stooges and innumerable underground punk (and hardcore) and college rock bands, combined those sounds in ways which were pleasing to them and presented them for a new generation. Those were the foundations on which alt-rock was built, and that proved to be the breath of new life that the music and audiences needed. Now – twenty-five years after it started – Yuck (who's members are just the right age to have been raised on those foundations, depending on how “cool” their parents were) has released an album which expands on the epic/melodic anthemia of Screaming Trees, the textural guitar sounds of Sonic Youth and Pavement, the perfectly introspective pop melodies of The Lemonheads and the four-track genius of early Sebadoh, and has incorporated it with their own sensibilities to create a new sound all their own. Some critics would (and have) called such a compositional structure wildly derivative, but Yuck is not so much an example of history repeating as it might just be the first shot of a new generation expressing its own voice after having been inspired by modern rock, grunge and alternative as those sounds were inspired by classic rock, punk and indie rock.

That aforementioned amalgam of alt-rock influences explodes forth undeniably from the moment “Get Away” opens Yuck's debut, and promises to send chills up the spines of at least a few listeners. With fuzzy production (in all the right ways), scruffy rhythm guitar and a dense, slippery lead, “Get Away” can't help but draw attention to itself because (like the best songs of the Nineties) it has the benefits of sounding like it just escaped from the underground and it's tight, poppy and solid; like the best moments in the songbooks by Screaming Trees and Pavement, “Get Away” rocks like hell, but the fact that it wears its heart plainly on its sleeve (the “tell me when the pain kicks in” line echos lines like “I nearly lost you” and “I got style – miles and miles – so much style that it's wasted like another evolutionary step) makes it accessible to every late-teen-or-twenty-something who hears it. That would be enough to get listeners interested, but singer Daniel Blumberg ups the stakes by producing a perfect whimper in much the same way Robert Smith and Lou Barlow can (at any volume required) which makes for an incredibly compelling element in Yuck's song dynamics. On “Holing Out,” “Suicide Policeman” and “Stutter” particularly, the hazy, hissing production, warm bass and guitar parts and gargantuan drums provide a perfect canvas for Blumberg to color with his shockingly evocative vocal delivery, and guarantees that fans of the right mind will be met and made easily.

With all of those aforementioned elements in mind (the true indie romantic return, the fine compositions and the voice that can melt hearts), it shouldn't be surprising that Yuck struck a chord with audiences, but what is surprising is how immediately the band has been accepted; it usually takes a couple of releases for any band to break through as this one has. Things have gone incredibly well for Yuck in 2011 (both from a record sales standpoint and a 'concert attendance' one), but now the band has reissued a deluxe edition of the album which includes all of the B-sides from the singles which have been released.

It is worth noting that, historically, B-sides have been left off of LPs for a reason (be it for quality assurance purposes, or they just didn't fit the vibe of the album), but the six songs on the second disc here prove to be interesting because they add a little more depth to the album (read: they express a few more possible influences including The Pixies), and they are pretty strong songs in their own right. The smooth, easy rock of “The Base Of A Dream Is Empty” further enforces the fantastic, fuzzy forms first presented on the regular LP before giving way to the positively poppy “Milkshake” and “Coconut Bible” – the latter of which sounds like a Siamese Dream-era Smashing Pumpkins song would have if the band had been from the UK rather than Chicago. Each of these (as well as “Doctors In My Bed”) are as strong as many of the cuts on Yuck, so it stands to reason that the only reason they were left off the album was due to the time constraints of any physical format full-length. That they were initially forgotten is unfortunate, but that the situation has been remedied here on this two-disc deluxe edition is excellent; fans who hadn't yet purchased the album have an all-new and valid reason to pick up Yuck, and the songs on the second disc are just strong enough to have those who already bought a copy of the album thinking seriously about trading up. Having every reason to purchase the same album twice in one year is not often a claim that any record could make, but the deluxe edition of Yuck's debut does.

Further Reading:

Ground Control's review of Yuck's self-titled album.
Yuck – Legendary Horseshoe Tavern, 09/25/11 – [Live]



The deluxe edition of Yuck's self-titled album is out now. Buy it here on Amazon .

Comments are closed.