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Yuck Isobel George , March 2nd, 2011 11:39

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In June, Simon Reynolds will publish his new book Retromania, a study of whether our compulsion for repackaging popular culture's past has left us with nothing but archive-print wrapping round an empty box where a brain should be.

I don't know what his conclusions are, but I wish the tome was out already, if only so I could scrumple up its worthy pages and stuff them down my abused ear-canals in order to block out Yuck's debut album. Leaving aside just for now the fact that I hated this kind of Lemonheads-lite, floral-dressed, clompety-booted, neurotic ninny inanity the first time round, I have absolutely no idea how anyone could be arsed to expend the (admittedly small) effort it takes to produce such a pointless photocopy. If the original 90s incarnation ignited the evolutionary instinct to stamp out such weaklings for the good of the gene pool, its revival as little more than a stylistic scaffold on which to hang the words 'scuzzy' like a plaid shirt on an shop-window dummy is enough to make an Xfm DJ turn Taxi Driver.

The studied Lou Barlow listlessness of 'Suck', the sludgy, half-speed Gish-era Pumpkins trudge of 'Rubber'..., the Evan Dando navel-gazing of 'Shook Down'… it is the sound of quite unbelievable laziness. Not 'slackerdom': laziness. "Trying to make it through the wall" Daniel Blumberg repeats ad infinitum through the album's second track, a token gesture at gumption. Success seems unlikely given that his only tools to complete the task seem to be the chisel of irritation and the hammer of petulant, adenoidal whine.

It's the tameness that tires the most; lauded as 'lo fi', and indeed self-produced and recorded at guitarist Max Bloom's parents house Yuck nevertheless conjures the sound of a switch marked 'fuzzy' being flicked, about as murky and abrasive as a polished pound coin. You can question the reasoning of other lo-fi revivalists, but at least the likes of Times New Viking, Jay Reatard and Psychedelic Horseshit had the decency to sound a little scary. I never actually thought I'd have need of the phrase 'it's like shitgaze never happened', but this is the juncture we find ourselves at.

Does it matter that their inspirations are retrogressive, as long as it sounds good? There are some well-crafted tunes in here; not even I can find it in my bitter heart to hate the Nickelodeon-Dinosaur Jr bounce of 'Georgia' or the honey-toned amble of 'Suicide Policeman'. Well, yes, it does, because spunking talent down a rose-tinted cistern like this is unforgivable. It matters because there's absolutely no way this music could say anything to anyone about their lives in 2011. Try playing this album over news footage of the student riots and it will seems as appropriate as Mungo Jerry's 'In The Summertime'.

If you don't think it's important that music can say something to people about their lives, fine, but this website probably isn't for you. This is not the tired old argument about whether genuine innovation is possible. It doesn't matter if you haven't found a new note between B and C if you fuse the atoms of your influences together in configurations that release new energy, or if you have the pure charisma, the human connection to reanimate old forms with new life. Yuck do not have the strength or the wit to do either. Listening to them is the musical equivalent of going to work in Belle Epoque fancy dress 'just because it looks nice - that's all that matters'.

The band do nothing to help their case; surly in interviews and cagey about influences, retro, derivation. “We only really care about melody” Blumberg has stated. Not good enough - there's a lot of people out there with melodies, sunshine, and a band with the presumption to make an album that sounds like this in this day and age and thrust it before the world's approval damn well better have thought hard about what they're doing and why. Especially if two of them used to be in Cajun Fucking Dance Party.

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The Riverboat Captain
Mar 2, 2011 6:54pm

Oh, switch your brain off and play it again.

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Mar 2, 2011 9:25pm

I think it's pretty great, it seems like you approached the record with a really negative attitude. This isn't even a response to the record it's just a rant. 'Cajun Fucking Dance Party' is just embarrassing, regardless of your opinion of them, I'm not a fan at all but still... Stop trying to be Vice magazine maybe...?

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Ronan P
Mar 2, 2011 9:31pm

I saw Yuck play live once. It was a bit like watching a middle class youth club band attempt to play "Teenage Riot" 8 times in a row, before sloping off stage for a pose & a sulk. Why would anybody want to spend decent money on Yuck's new LP when copies of Loveless, Bug & Bandwagonesque are going for a song in Fopp, I wonder...?

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Mar 3, 2011 1:03am

This is honestly the worst piece of music criticism I've seen in my life. After reading some really bad amateur and Pitchfork pieces, I didn't think this would happen. I heard that this was a really quality website with great writing, but I don't think I'll come back. Thanks for helping me with that decision.

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Mar 3, 2011 1:22am

Good criticism of Yuck. I love the early 90s 'slacker' indie scene and as such I have no idea why this band should exist. If you aim to be a simulation you will always end up a less aesthetically pleasing product. Plus these guys are fucking dweebs, Cajun Dance Party!!! Christ.

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John Calvert
Mar 3, 2011 4:49am

Its almost impossible to say it better than how isabel has with these 4 observations:
-'about as murky and abrasive as a polished pound coin"
-It's the tameness that tires the most; lauded as 'lo fi'
-aside just for now the fact that I hated this kind of Lemonheads-lite, floral-dressed, clompety-booted, neurotic ninny inanity the first time round,
-'it's like shitgaze never happened'

a limp-wristed, vanilla, abomination of a record.

this has nothing to do with punk, or grunge or alt.

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Mar 3, 2011 5:38am

I think the record's all right, but I can't say that the criticisms don't have validity. It is funny, however, that a few weeks back there was a rave review on this site ( different reviewer, I'd imagine ) for that 'Ebsen and the Witch' record that wrapped it in purple platitudes. I finally heard the record a week after that and...jesus christ, it was like a photocopy of an old Siouxsie & the Banshees album. So I can understand where these criticisms are coming from, even if I don't fully go along with them.
But, I'll be honest, I've had those complaints about a number of bands over the years who've earned hosannas from the nattering classes, and I tend to just let it slide. I can't imagine getting that worked up about it. Which I realize you've chastised me ( not personally, I realise ) for already, but still..if I allowed the utter lack of originality or verve in modern music to get me down so much, I'd be a really miserable person. Reading pages of praise for, say, Radiohead, a band which I loathe for it's joyless tedium and middlebrow sensibilities, has left me pretty much immune to all of it. I'm an old man; maybe it's time I gave up the game and moved on to home furnishings or something.

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F.Leghorn, revisited
Mar 3, 2011 5:43am

In reply to F.Leghorn:

I am interested in reading Reynolds' new book, however. It is an interesting dichotomy, however, in that while I will no doubt agree with Simon's perspective on this, it must also be said that he, himself, has had a bit of a hand in certain retro cultures, what with his superb 'Rip it Up' book, and willingness to write the liner notes for re-issues. I'm utterly weary of the retro culture, but at the same time, have also enjoyed it because it's allowed me to finally hear a lot of records I'd only ever read about before. Music, to me, has never felt less alive than it does today, so if I need to spend some time with the zombies, I guess it's better than pretending to like the new critical faves, which are inevitably just rehashes of something I'd already heard fifteen years ago ( kind of like 'Yuck', I guess ).

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Mar 3, 2011 3:01pm

Just listened to a track of theirs on Pitchfork

I thought it was so unbelievably shit and pointless it actually gave me a massive buzz of energy I am now going to do something useful with.

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Mar 3, 2011 6:05pm

In reply to Catherine:

You don't have to agree or even like a critic, you're just supposed to read it. You didn't have to attack the writer, you need them to be honest. You haven't questioned any of her arguments nor given counter examples. All you've done is attack someone. This may be the only time you attack a reviewer but if every time a reader disagrees with a writer someone lays into them with pointless vitriol (and it always happens after the music has been administered a shoeing) then you've just turned the oft thankless task of reviewing into a sadomasochistic one.

You are biting the hand that feeds.

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Mar 3, 2011 6:12pm

So let me get this straight, they evolved out of Cajun Dance Party and they play music that is a total and utter pastiche of music from the nineties, with absolutely nothing original about the songwriting, production, dress or attitude, and yet their street teams can still manage to pretend to be pissed off when someone calls them out on it?


As much of a joke as Brother

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Dave K
Mar 3, 2011 10:41pm

Couldn't agree more with the review. Every song is like a game of spot the influence and how bad do we sound compared to them. They dusted off some CD's and tried to copy the music without bringing their own twist to the turntable. The Strokes are a prime example of band that wore their influence on their leather sleeves but added a new energy to the tunes. Yuck fail miserably at this.

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Mar 4, 2011 7:55am

In reply to F.Leghorn:

I'm sure this is the of utter pointlessness, like so much guitar rock these days.

The one selling point being there's probably loads of people who've never heard the originals first time round and might find this enjoyabel, but please please please can we outlaw the sneering cyncism of the term 'middlebrow'.

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Ted G
Mar 5, 2011 1:24pm

It's not a bad record but I mostly agree with the review. It's too derivative to be able to really relax with. Influences should bubble under not roar their head off at you. This is the Dinosaur Jr type track, this is the Teenage Fanclub type track. One is very Yo La Tengo too. Maybe one for the kids. Was that patronising? I hope so.

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Mar 6, 2011 5:19pm

I thought that journalists were supposed to rise above the whole "Oh, I don't like it and therefore no one else should" thing. This is the sort of pretentious tedium I thought I was escaping when I first found The Quietus. Needless to say, I won't be coming back.

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John Doran
Mar 6, 2011 8:20pm

In reply to Elliot:

This is the kind of devastating news that only a course of cognitive behavioural therapy, 5g of MDMA and grief counselling will get us through. Let's hope we make it in one piece.

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mister laurie
Mar 7, 2011 12:04pm

ha. this is a fun section. Yuck suck. And thae fact that this review points this simple fact out is precisely why I like tQ.

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Mar 7, 2011 11:46pm

In reply to AM:

Fair enough, the day I have to stop reading about how Radiohead has re-invented modern music, and how every note that Yorke, et al conjure are somehow the equivalent of a fairy flapping it's wings, I'll stop sneering at it.
It's not cynicism, it's fucking tiresome. For true evidence of cynicism, I'd direct you to the review at the top of the page, or Doran's comment at the bottom of this thread.

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Mar 8, 2011 7:14pm

Rubber is OK. I don't think it's got much to do with Gish really. Are they not going for MBV? I do find the more i listen to it the less i like it. Never a good sign in my experience. I'm a sucker for feedback though and when you're walking about Glasgow city centre listening to it it does sound chaotic and soothing at the same time. Isobel gave a lot less of a bollocking to White Lies and they've got nothing.

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Steve 2
Mar 9, 2011 11:01am

In reply to Elliot:

I thought fans were supposed to rise above the "Oh, I like it and therefore everyone else should" pompous sulking in your post. If a reviewer doesn't like an artist or record that you do, so what? Don't accuse them of bad writing or pretentiousness when it is nothing of the sort.

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Matt Leach
Mar 10, 2011 3:46pm

I thought that this kind of derision was saved up for James Blunt or Enya records. Sure the album is in no way original and wears its influences firmly on its plaid sleeves, but come on, it really isnt as bad as this review makes it out to be.
Isnt it nice that people so young are turning on to trying to make music their own way without the aid of the reality world. Give them a chance at least.

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Mar 11, 2011 12:19am

Plaid shirts are getting as much of a hard time as the music here. They're warm, functional, take the piss out of cardigans if anything.

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Mar 11, 2011 10:51am

In reply to Duncan:

Cardigans suck! The band, and the item of clothing.

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Mar 11, 2011 10:45pm

In reply to :

Adam Downer are you reading thaisogas

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Mar 11, 2011 11:40pm

In reply to :


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Mar 15, 2011 11:58pm

Short version: oy! Kids! Get your own stuff!

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Mar 16, 2011 9:36pm

In reply to Jon:

You cool guys. You're so cool.

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Mar 21, 2011 4:46am

I don't honestly know what's more annoying - musicians who think music has to reflect their idiotic politics, or critics who do - but I would suggest that if we were to play any music over the 'student riots', it would be Hall & Oates' "Rich Girl". Bunch of pampered pussies crying because the government teat dried up. Waah.

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Mar 23, 2011 1:33am

In reply to AtheistConservative:

No reservations. Rubber is pure anger and beautiful for it. Listened to it against my feedback heavy playlist on the way to work in a pissed off mood and it wasn't . . Shocking Pinks, Radio Dept, JAMC, MBV and it stood right up and kicked my head in! Beautiful. Ween and Mogwai and A Sunny Day In Glasgow got me home safe. And it was a beautiful night in Glasgow!

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will Prowse
Apr 13, 2011 1:57pm

Jesus Christ broaden your musical taste I wouldn't mind if all music took a step backwards towards oasis, the pixies and the cure all of which are brilliant bands. However what you are saying in my view is that bands all need to follow the stereotypically bland and auto-tuned nature of 2011 music that is played on radio one every day about 20 times. I for one thank yuck for the step towards the old way of "fuzzy" rock being followed by the likes of the crocodiles and the eagulls!

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Smokes Quantity
May 5, 2011 1:05pm

In reply to Steve:

I just found out this band are playing Wireless Festival, with the Saturday line-up being pretty uninspiring I hoped these would be decent. I saw the band Brother open for The Streets and they are one of the worst things ever. If this band give off the same musical attitude then I don't think i'll even bother listening.

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Jun 8, 2011 5:09pm

I quite enjoyed Yuck, guiltily enough. It was good fun and at least they're ripping off decent bands. You shouldn't criticise them just because they used to be in Cajun, though. That's hardly objective reviewing.

I respect Simon Reynolds, but I dislike him. The whole 'music is weak now' argument being peddled seems a non-sequitur. If Reynolds and the rest (including this site) didn't say music was dead, it wouldn't be. It's like you're all so obsessed with seeking the new Smiths to bother actually taking an evaluative look at the music scene.

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Jun 8, 2011 5:10pm

What a load of shit, I thought this site was better than this. Is it derivative, yes. So what. What music isn't. What a bunch of cunts.

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Jun 8, 2011 5:18pm

Tempted to agree there mate. It does seem a bit snobby and anti-Yuck, more because they're popular than anything else.

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Dec 29, 2011 3:11pm

i thought you were supposed to be reviewing the album not the music genre. i really do not understand why you would want to review a style of music you dislike so much. your review is useless to anyone who wishes to know whether or not this is a worthwhile purchase. having read your drivel i am none the wiser as you clearly would trash any album of this type. pretty pointless exercise and something which this particular publication specialises in. it is getting rather tiresome.

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Jan 5, 2012 5:02pm

I think the album is pretty good and I am not some newcomer to that sound, I dug the bands that they're into when I was a teen in the 90s and still like those records (along with a shed-load of 'forward thinking' stuff that the Quietus more likely creams over.) I am for one pleased to hear a band that sound influenced by the dear departed Mark Linkous and acknowledges such. Shit band name though.

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Jun 21, 2013 9:30am

In reply to Ronan P:

Sonic youth is fucking middle class youth band,too
be true to you, all playing-noise type bands are fucking middle class
youth band

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