Review : Yuck - Yuck
PitchforkA revival of the 1990s, a decade unusually obsessed with postmodern revivals in fashion and culture, was always inevitable. But it isn't exactly overdue. In fact, over the past few years, the return of bands and styles from the Clinton administration has almost become cliché. Pavement, Dinosaur Jr., the Dismemberment Plan, Jawbreaker, and even Blink-182 have reunited. Guided By Voices reassembled their 'classic lineup.' And Weezer recently reprised their beloved mid-90s albums in their entirety at live shows. Among younger artists, the college-rock subculture of the 80s and 90s has been resurgent for some time, whether in the Slumberland-streaked indie pop of the Pains of Being Pure at Heart or Best Coast, the artful squall of No Age, the achingly nostalgic paeans of Deerhunter, the ambling guitar epics of Real Estate, or the slacker punk-pop of Wavves.
There's no escaping it: If you've heard anything about Yuck, it's that this London four-piece loves the 90s. The band's members are very clearly products of the web rather than any particular geography; their self-titled debut evinces tastes that run toward fuzzy indie bands from both sides of the pond. Yes, there's a bit of the wah-pedal guitar violence of Dinosaur Jr., and a little of the lackadaisical detachment of Pavement, but there's also the rich tunefulness of Teenage Fanclub and Velocity Girl, and at times the unadorned resignation of Red House Painters or Elliott Smith. However, like so many artists saddled (fairly or not) with the "revival" tag, from post-punk and garage-rock to nu-disco or neo-soul, Yuck are worth hearing not so much because of who they sound like, but what they've done with those sounds: in this case, make a deeply melodic, casually thrilling coming-of-age album for a generation that never saw Nirvana on "120 Minutes".
As with their best peers in the Fat Possum stable, Yuck distinguish themselves by knowing their way around around a catchy, emotionally evocative song. Sometimes these can be bright and optimistic, almost twee, as in the peppy boy-girl endearments of "Georgia", or the midtempo acoustic yearning of "Shook Down". Elsewhere, they can be gritty and urgent: Screeches of feedback occasionally drown out drowsy vocals on "Holing Out", nicely suiting lyrics about communication problems; likewise, the distortion-blistered repetitions of "The Wall" suggest the Sisyphean efforts they describe. Then there are the heartfelt mopers: the stripped-down comfort offer "Suicide Policeman", the Galaxie 500-meets-"Nightswimming" "Stutter", or the lonely post-breakup jangler "Sunday". Seven-minute closer "Rubber" is the type of gorgeously incantatory slow burner veterans like Yo La Tengo stlll make (see "More Stars Than There Are in Heaven", from 2009's underrated Popular Songs)-- not to mention Mogwai, who've remixed it-- but too few bands successfully emulate. Add up these different types of tracks, and you have an unusually coherent album-length experience....full text
DustedmagazineThe big opening gag for Fred Armisen’s and Carrie Brownstein’s Portlandia is a song that goes on and on about how “the spirit of the 90s is alive in Portland.” Since both had a hand in that spirit (thanks to Trenchmouth and Sleater-Kinney), they’re in a decent place to comment, but they are too provinicial in their scope. The reunion circuit is quite literally overflowing with first wave indie bands that are hitting all the right nostalgia buttons while still pulling in new fans. Superchunk’s got a new record. Pavement’s got a new cake. The Dismemberment Plan just played late night. J Mascis is re-entering his solo phase. Even Archers of Loaf are quietly testing the water in Chapel Hill for the inevitable reboot.
So the main question for anyone who grew up on these bands nowadays is why would you want to sound like them? These are the originators, after all, and for the most part they’re picking up exactly where they left off. Where does the new kid come off trying to throw in with the cool crowd?
The answer is actually pretty simple: because you’re good at it. And on Yuck’s first album, it looks like they know it. More timid bands might be scared off or overthink things in an attempt to distinguish themselves from the past, but not Yuck. Not only do they hold their own, they show how pointless the whole name game really is. You could waste your time picking out all the referents and homages and clear-cut cases of theft, but that kind of music nerd dickswinging defeats the purpose of listening in the first place.
There are a lot of good songs on here, to the point where the band’s consistency can border on monotony. They work with a very narrow scope, just two modes of songwriting, which leaves little room for error. But when you pop in for just a song or three, this limited range isn’t so obvious. In that sense, Yuck’s first album is already working like a greatest hits collection.
The first style is exemplified by “Get Away.” Loud, lush, and absurdly catchy, it’s filled from wall to wall with distorted guitars and redlined vocals that go through the most primal emotions. Its sonic deluge sounds simple enough at first pass, but there’s a lot that emerges after you’ve listened five or more times. At first it’s the tambourine, then it’s the bass break, then it’s a game of guess-the-pedal....full text
SputnikmusicWe've lost something. I can't really describe what it is, but something in our society has failed us. Perhaps time is the culprit, refusing to slow down for even a moment, as technology evolves faster and life speeds on, towards some certain oblivion in the distant future. Have you ever heard the saying "as time goes by, things speed up"? These days, it's hard to be care free, hard to go a second without a thought or worry. We've done this to ourselves and there's seemingly no stop sign in sight. We're in the time of Facebook and Twitter, of instant gratification and busy, busy lives, with no room for reflection. Obviously things change, but when does the point come when things are moving too fast and we forgot how we got here?
This is where Yuck comes in. Yuck could be the start of something truly, truly groundbreaking. When I first heard Yuck, I wasn't necessarily blown away as I was startled as how un-2011 it sounded; fuzzy guitars, a freeing wind about it, recalling the indie-noise-grunge of the early 90's, where bands such as Dinosaur Jr. and My Bloody Valentine were making names for themselves by fitting into the times. It's when, not what, that truly reveals the brilliance of Yuck - music that turns back the clock in such a welcoming fashion. It's hard to appreciate our surroundings nowadays, compared to the simpler, less fear-based times of the rocking 90's. It's difficult, you know, to just stop for a minute and look around. We're in an age where patience isn't a virtue, where sitting on your front porch all day with a couple of beers and some tunes is a waste of precious time, as days melt into each other thanks to our vicious daily cycles. As a result, art nowadays almost always seems to have something to prove, some statement it feels it needs to make in order to be heard: after all, we're living in busy times. Yuck don't seem to care; their debut is filled to the brim with truly rocking songs, nothing overly ambitious or definite, songs with a sole purpose of existing to help us remember what it was like before this. The amazing thing about it is how Yuck seem to not want or realize this is what their music does; they're playing music for themselves and if anyone wants to join in on the backtrack, they're more than welcome to. It's a garage band excluding themselves from the pressures of modern society and playing from the heart.
Where Daniel Blumberg gets his inspiration for some of his lyrics I have no idea, but whatever he has to say somehow works, as his voice is always sounding like it is longing for something that isn't there. "The Wall", in all its kick-assness (I know) doesn't make any sense on paper, as Blumberg passionately yells "Try to make it through the wall / You can see me if you're tall", but maybe it's not supposed to; after all, this is a throw back to a less-thought-more-do time. Perhaps Blumberg is longing for the very thing that his band's album so poignantly resonates; the past. Through the first 11 tracks, Yuck make a strong album, filled with memorable hooks, easily remembered and inspiring lyrical lines ("All the time to kill / wake me up tomorrow / and if my sky is empty / I'm holding out for you" is a highlight in the shoegazey "Holing Out"), and a sound that just simply hasn't been heard in over a decade. It's refreshingly retro, rock solid, and immediately accesible....full text
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