What I most likely will be listening to this summer
There’s no escaping it: If you’ve heard anything about Yuck, it’s that this London four-piece loves the 90s. The band’s members are very clearly products of the web rather than any particular geography; their self-titled debut evinces tastes that run toward fuzzy indie bands from both sides of the pond. Yes, there’s a bit of the wah-pedal guitar violence of Dinosaur Jr., and a little of the lackadaisical detachment of Pavement, but there’s also the rich tunefulness of Teenage Fanclub and Velocity Girl, and at times the unadorned resignation of Red House Painters or Elliott Smith. However, like so many artists saddled (fairly or not) with the “revival” tag, from post-punk and garage-rock to nu-disco or neo-soul, Yuck are worth hearing not so much because of who they sound like, but what they’ve done with those sounds: in this case, make a deeply melodic, casually thrilling coming-of-age album for a generation that never saw Nirvana on “120 Minutes“.
As with their best peers in the Fat Possum stable, Yuck distinguish themselves by knowing their way around around a catchy, emotionally evocative song. Sometimes these can be bright and optimistic, almost twee, as in the peppy boy-girl endearments of “Georgia“, or the midtempo acoustic yearning of “Shook Down”. Elsewhere, they can be gritty and urgent: Screeches of feedback occasionally drown out drowsy vocals on “Holing Out“, nicely suiting lyrics about communication problems; likewise, the distortion-blistered repetitions of “The Wall” suggest the Sisyphean efforts they describe. Then there are the heartfelt mopers: the stripped-down comfort offer “Suicide Policeman”, the Galaxie 500-meets-“Nightswimming” “Stutter”, or the lonely post-breakup jangler “Sunday”. Seven-minute closer “Rubber” is the type of gorgeously incantatory slow burner veterans like Yo La Tengo stlll make (see “More Stars Than There Are in Heaven“, from 2009’s underrated Popular Songs)– not to mention Mogwai, who’ve remixed it— but too few bands successfully emulate. Add up these different types of tracks, and you have an unusually coherent album-length experience.
About 90% of their apparent influences are bands that I truly love (Dinosaur Jr., Teenage Fanclub, Red House Painters) and still listen to. I would also add that on some tracks Yuck certainly has some My Bloody Valentine going on which is what first attracted me to them
Also, too, big thumbs up for the new Explosions In The Sky which is excellent background music for reading or blogging but not driving. Sadly, there is probably nothing there Doug can use on his karaoke night
As always, your mileage may vary and your favorite band sux…