Yuck’s first album comes little over a year after they emerged from the embers of the much hyped indie pop band Cajun Dance Party but, as we bemoaned after their triumphant gig at the Lexington at the end of October, it’s felt a long time coming.
They’d justly earned themselves a reputation as a live band to be reckoned with and even found themselves longlisted for the BBC Sound Of 2011, but still they left us hanging with just a handful of singles. At last they’ve rectified the situation and it’s been well worth the wait.
Guitarist Max Bloom and singer Daniel Blumberg’s Cajun Dance Party had the industry in quite a tizz when a few years ago, before they’d even left school, they burst onto the scene with their hyper-youthful sound that married the flailing garage rock scene with melodic twee sensibilities. Perhaps predictably, Cajun Dance Party crashed and burned, and in the intervening years Bloom, Blumberg and their new friends must have raided their parents’ record collection. Whereas in the recent past this might have produced Beatles and Stones records, their youth means tapes by Sonic Youth, Pixies, Dinosaur Jnr and even early Ash were unearthed. The result of this influence is a rakish reinvention of alternative ’90s rock but, perhaps as a hangover of having been teenage indie kids, it’s a lot more polished and controlled.
The tracks fall into two categories. There are stroppy, mopey songs with plodding guitars like Shook Down and the gloriously hooky Suicide Policeman, which recall the more reflective moments of The Lemonheads, and there are straight up rock-out tracks like The Wall and Holing Out, which see distorted vocals and crunching grunge guitars piled on top of each other.
Some songs will be familiar to those who’ve seen them live over the last year. Georgia is a live favourite; a lo-fi anthem with a britpoppish chorus and fuzzy boy/girl vocals and lashings of percussion.
Single Rubber is an epic, growling song that clocks up seven minutes of goosebumply static and gently crawling noise. Operation is another that survives the transition from stage to record, with peddled guitars and layers of distortion and reverb, it’s the one that sends cider flying through the air at their gigs, as it escalates into a clattering,cymbal-smashing racket. It’s the closest they come to raw and chaotic. For a band preoccupied with a time when so many of music’s rules were deconstructed, there’s almost a reluctance to let go, like the kids at the school disco who shuffle their feet uncomfortably at the side of the room.
There’s been talk of a grunge revival for some time but it’s never quite kicked off. With Yuck we’ve finally found a band willing and able to take the baton and run with it. Theirs is an easily digestible, less angst-ridden take on grunge, with a fizzing, infectious youthfulness to it. Definitely one to keep a close eye on this year.