Yuck

When Yuck exploded onto the global indie scene with their self-titled album in 2011, you had to wonder what Act II would hold. Their follow up album Glow & Behold cleared away some of the fuzz to make room for a sunnier haze. It seemed like the lo-fi aspects of the band were still present, but only as a very minor base that served as a starting point. Then, the band weathered some major shake-ups in late 2013 (just google this – lots of stories out there), so when we first listened to Stranger Things, we were pleasantly surprised to see the London band find a nice balance within both worlds in spite of the rocky years.

Album opener “Hold Me Closer” is like shaking a combustible bottle in slow motion only but to find out that it just kind of fizzes out because you shook it for too long. Lightning bolts of high energy shoot through the track, but they come from sources well outside of the bottle. As frontman Max Bloom sings “I want to see the iterations of my dreams,” you have to wonder if these dreams are scraping the bottom or have been thrown into the vastness of the sea. Maybe, and if so, there’s something about the acceptance of failure that is freeing and enlightening. This all gets turned up a notch on “Cannonball,” a screeching explosion of power postpunk that contains the ghosts of 90s banner waving anthems mixed with a gritty ambiance.

But out of nowhere, there’s the glow. The gorgeous mellowness of “Like a Moth” is reassuring in its steadfastness to a situation that is impossible to resist in spite of how problematic or harmful said scenario may be. It’s a glow that arches itself over to the title track of the album. Unfortunately, the shine is cast into a world where there’s the painfully candid repetition of “I hate myself.” Still, Yuck has no problem having indie rock shake hands with the alt-country of the late 80s. It makes sense when the next track, “I’m Ok” attempts to convince the audience of just that. “No one to rely on, no shoulder to cry on…” and so it goes. Sure, no one to really turn to, but everything is apparently okay. Then, all of a sudden, the band collectively stabs through a wall of darkness with searing guitars and one last statement to make.

By now, the comparisons and influences for the band have been well established. So, imagine if you will every power post-rock piece you loved growing up and going through college. Prepare to love something equally as so now in adulthood with “Hearts in Motion.” Released as one of the singles to the album, this is maybe one of the most emotive songs Yuck has done. A beautiful image shows itself – through all of this turmoil, there’s still these basic forms inside us operating in unison. The residuals lead to “Swirling,” a track title that sums up the atmosphere wonderfully, and this leads to “Down,” a cold, alt-electronic track that goes full tilt Buzz rock. Electric pulses want to pierce through, but it isn’t happening.

Stranger Things begins to close down on “Yr Face,” and you can tell the album is going to have to be dragged out of the door after a very long night. So Yuck go for everything. The bass hits as deeply as possible, the percussion steers them through choppy waters, and the guitars don’t shy away from effects pedals. Things get a bit sloppy, a bit gravely in the music, and it’s a fitting bookend as Yuck seem to find safety back in the den of lo-fi as the closing moments feel like standing on the edge of oblivion and saying, “Take me from here.”

The album is out now, and Yuck are offering a slew of great options and packages outside of the standard digital fare through their Pledge Music page. Yes, you want to get it now. Joey Smith