The Quietus - A new rock music and pop culture website


Process JR Moores , May 7th, 2014 07:35

As my grandfather used to say while sitting me on his knee and tossing Werther's Original after Werther's Original into my tiny virginal face until every last one of my teeth had crumbled into dusty residue, "you shouldn't judge a book by its cover, a person by the colour of their skin, or a popular beat combo by their dodgy band name" (though even Grandpappy himself was forced to admit that Dodgy had a dodgy name and they turned out to be well dodgy). Now an aged toothless Englishman, I cannot help but associate the name Yvette with professional pretender-that-ghosts-actually-bloody-exist Yvette 'Most Haunted' Fielding or else Yvette 'Not Mrs. Balls' Cooper, the Shadow Home Secretary who for some reason declined taking the surname of her husband Ed (ho ho ho, it means testicles, don't you know).

Maybe 'Yvette' sounds more glamorous on the other side of the Atlantic. Over there they've got Yvette Cason who played Beyoncé's mother in that Dreamgirls film. Yvette Devereaux, the violinist and composer who's worked with Stevie Wonder, Chaka Khan, and Bruno Mars. And Yvette Mimieux, who was in the 1960 film adaptation of HG Wells' The Time Machine and later Devil Dog: The Hound of Hell (highly recommended btw; a bit like The Omen but with a dog in it). I don't know which Yvette this group happen to be named after. I haven't done the research. Been too busy trying to battle my crippling lifelong addiction to Werther's while undergoing psychological treatment for my not-entirely unrelated grandfather complex. What I do know is that Yvette make one helluva rumpus, especially for a humble duo. 

Noah plays guitar and sings. Dale plays drums and synthesisers. Both dabble in atonal 'effects'.

The obvious reference point here is Liars, even down to the two groups' respective website names (that's and, yes, Like Liars, Yvette's prominent drums are sharp, precise, punchy and tribal. Backed by an oppressively resonant siren, 'Cuts Me In Half' sounds like a crew of hopeless astronauts who, resigning themselves to the fact that their patchwork spaceship can never escape the gravitational pull of that huge flaming sun over there, have chosen to spend their last couple of minutes trying to cover something off They Were Wrong, So We Drowned. 

'Tempered Glass' also employs that whole noisy, tribal, chanting shtick. Noah's vocals are unusually sedate and monotone for a group of such rackety boisterousness. They're almost spoken, a little emotionally cold at times, but often intriguing. 'Mirrored Walls' has a propulsive dance-like death-disco structure which builds nicely to a petite mort climax, and 'Holding Nothing' is all Drum's Not Dead momentum and shimmeringly warped clangouring.

One track is called 'Absolutes'. Wasn't that the title of a Sightings album? Perhaps it's a homage, because those fellow Brooklynites are another fitting comparison. 'Absolutes' (the track) is a juddering, industrial-tinged instrumental, whereas the disjointed minimalism of 'Pure Pleasure' recalls Sightings' 2007 album Through The Panama. If you're more comfortable picking out influences from rock music's earlier canon, however, Killing Joke and Wire also spring to mind.

Given that attention spans have drastically shortened and nobody can concentrate on any one thing for more than a millisecond at a time without fingering Twitter, ogling Facebook, or becoming agitated by the irresistible urge to punch this sanctimonious bellend in his smug Nathan Barley face, it might be a wise move that Yvette keep everything short and prickly. Their tracks rarely exceed the three-and-a-half minute mark and each indulgent no-wave-y/early Sonic Youth noise section is over before you can even begin to get bored by it, making way for the next freshly thrilling fragment of din.

Liars have forged a remarkable career for themselves over the past few years. Many other uncompromising groups of their ilk have sadly fallen by the wayside. Hopefully, to paraphrase the title of my grandfather's cherished James Herriott paperback, it shouldn't happen to Yvette.