It’s been a strange few years for Yuck, with their frontman and co-songwriter Daniel Blumberg leaving the band quite suddenly just before the band put out their second album Glow & Behold in 2013, and having guitarist Max Bloom step up and takeover vocal and songwriting duties, as well as Edward Hayes being introduced as a full-time guitarist.
Recorded at their own pace in London over several months, and thus in vastly different conditions to their previous album, Stranger Things (released February 26th) is Yuck coming back refreshed and considered. Songs such as ‘Cannonball’ and the first song released from the record back in December, ‘Hold Me Closer‘, contain hallmarks of the band – Dinosaur Jr riffs, memorable melodies and fuzzy production that is precise – they have never sonically sounded insipid or indecisive.
One big difference, however, that could arguably be attributed to the way the album was written, is that often the songs meander structurally towards endings and go on perhaps slightly too long in moments, making them sometimes seem a tad overthought. There are certain moments when this laid back approach pays dividends, though. The title track sounds like it could have been written by Evan Dando, with its walk-down chords and lack of overdrive on the vocals. Despite its languid Americana sound, this is as direct as the record gets and a real highlight. The refrains of “I hate myself,” sound sincere, rather than if they were drenched out which would make it seem a little disingenuous, or even twee potentially. It’s bold from someone who wasn’t supposed to be singing at all, and shows that Bloom isn’t hiding behind any gimmicks.
In fact, his voice adds an interesting new facet to the band in comparison to Blumberg’s, as Bloom’s gives Yuck a more nervous, neurotic and less assured feel that works particularly well on songs with more elongated, drone doused melodies, such as on ‘Like A Moth’ and‘I’m OK’. Stranger Things achieves in subtly redefining Yuck without overhauling the band. Admittedly they might be missing the precision, forthrightness, and sometimes urgency of tracks that so endeared their debut to so many, such as ‘Georgia‘ and ‘Get Away‘, but this record teases at the idea that Yuck are unpeeling themselves to reveal more layers of emotiveness, rather than the fey, detached and opaque tendencies of many other guitar bands making similarly influenced fuzzed-out rock music currently.