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Protest Song Of The Week: ‘The Overload’ By Yard Act

We all feel the malaise of what has become normal, whether it is life under a global pandemic and/or the expansion of austerity measures that impact everyone. “The Overload,” Yard Act’s single from their debut album, is an anthem for those struggling to keep their head above water.

Yard Act is a post-punk band that hails from Leeds, England, and the influence of the Arctic Monkeys is pretty evident. They also count the Gorillaz’ “Plastic Beach” album as inspiration

The chorus is a concise expression of the present:

The overload of discontent
The constant burden of making sense
It won’t relent, it won’t repent
How to remain in dissonance

It evokes the thought of the infinite scroll on our devices and the deluge of information that we are bombarded with day in and day out, which saps our energy. Every other news headline is another indication that society is in decline.

The “burden of making sense” is knowing that what we are told to fear is likely manufactured. What we are asked to tolerate and live with is probably worse than politicians will concede. Few people have the time to sit and sort out what is the truth, and knowing that you do not have all the information you need to make decisions wears on anyone muddling through their lives.

“How to remain in dissonance” becomes the eternal question. Making sense of it all is near impossible. To an extent, one has to accept that they will never fully understand, but they will strive to be good to others and not add to the collective hopelessness.

The first verse is vocalist James Smith’s whirlwind tour of the bleakness of post-Brexit Britain. “Fuck me, how am I supposed to cope, in the age of the gentrified savage. There’s no hope.”

Smith takes on the persona of Graham in the second verse, who is a corporate industry hack against “getting political” and the “dickhead singer” in the band. Basically, he disapproves of everything that make the Yard Act unique when compared to other cookie cutter bands. 

As Smith said in an interview for Under the Radar, Brexit has “formed so much of the state of this country’s mindset. It’s shaped the day to day lives of so many people.” It’s hard not to reference or allude to when making music.

But the album is more of a social document of life in 2021 or 2022, Smith adds. It’s about people more than politics. These are expressions that turn pretension inward and contemplate the anxieties and stress of getting by when everything around is moving so fast and you feel like you are being left behind.

Watch/listen to Yard Act’s “The Overload”: 

Kevin Gosztola

Kevin Gosztola

Kevin Gosztola is managing editor of Shadowproof. He also produces and co-hosts the weekly podcast, "Unauthorized Disclosure."