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Yuck
Glow And Behold Joe Clay , October 2nd, 2013 06:09

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First things first - Yuck is a TERRIBLE name for a band. It's what my three-year-old says when she eats something she dislikes. It's childish and twee and provides an open goal for word-shy haters who can dismiss the band thus - "Yuck? Yuck." But terrible name doesn't necessarily equal terrible band. There are many great bands with rubbish names (it’s subjective really, but Nirvana and The Beatles are two that spring to mind). And anyway, Yuck aren't actually terrible, but their second album - and first since the departure of frontman Daniel Blumberg - is just eminently forgettable and with a punning title (Glow And Behold) as awful as the band's name.

While their debut album was in thrall to 1991 (Swervedriver, Teenage Fanclub, Smashing Pumpkins, Dinosaur Jr), this time they've kept those reference points but also pushed things on a couple of years. It's a reminder of indie-past, when the arrival of trumpets on an album was supposed to represent a bold sonic reinvention, but all it really meant was godawful brass incongruously parping all over standard guitar chuggers. 

Having said that, the opening salvo of ‘Sunrise In Maple Shade’ and ‘Out Of Time’ are actually reminiscent of wistful US indie-rockers Real Estate. The former is an instrumental, all chiming, circular guitar riffs and the perfect soundtrack to looking wistfully out of the window and thinking about a girl whose face you'd like to stroke (yes stroke, there is nothing overtly sexual about the music of Yuck); while the latter adds yearning vocals and some pleasant Teenage Fanclub melodies.

‘Lose My Breath’ nicks an MBV song title and fuses their woozy FX-heavy guitar sound to a catchy indie jangler that bears a strong resemblance to the Mock Turtles' ‘Can You Dig It?’ Yes, a Mock Turtles/MBV hybrid is as awful as it sounds. "No need to find out who you are," coos Max Bloom, who has taken over vocal duties from Blumberg, with a pointless Yank inflection.

These are the sort of nothing lyrics that Ride were pilloried for back in the shoegaze heyday. ‘Memorial Field’s is more in the vein of the Pumpkins' Gish, sedately paced and distortion heavy, but it's just too damn tasteful and the trumpets make their first unwelcome appearance here too. ‘Middle Sea’ is a bit more like it, with a chunky melodious riff and splashy cymbals. There's talk of a "Move away across the ocean" which isn't bad advice for Yuck - they'll be judged far less harshly in the States than here. 

And harshly judged they deserve to be, for ‘Rebirth’ is a shameless Loveless rip-off, with only a glacial synth riff to set it apart from anything on that seminal album. There’s nothing wrong with imitating another band, but you have to take the opprobrium if your re-appropriation isn’t up to scratch. ‘Somewhere’ is maudlin and wishy-washy, ‘Nothing New’ is exactly that, and ‘How Does It Feel’ is grounded by banal lyricism ("How does it feel to be loved by someone else, to be touched by someone else?") and more fucking trumpets, though there is a satisfying change of gear that adds some welcome oomph to proceedings.

Album closer ‘Glow and Behold’ is pure Fannies, but where Norm and Co did their beefed-up Big Starisms with charm and wit, this is ordinary and crass with an irritating keyboard motif. It’s close in spirit to Ride's ‘I Don’t Know Where It Comes From’; a supposed “statement” album closer that actually makes you never want to listen to the record again. The lack of a mawkish kids’ choir is something to be thankful for. "It’s time to say goodbye, and open up your eyes," sings Bloom, which doesn't really make sense. The outro is a Britpop/shoegaze horror hybrid, where a churning Graham Coxon riff is ripped over nostalgic brass and a Beatles-esque chord progression – the musical equivalent of broccoli to a three-year-old. Yuck indeed.

Moonee Ponds
Oct 2, 2013 10:31am

They sound like Drop Nineteens. "Yuck", indeed.

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