Yuck-album

Yuck are being bandied about on almost every forum, new band section, ‘tips for 2011’ feature and indie-lover’s website you’ll have seen in the last couple of months. The superlatives are flowing copiously, the blogosphere is buzzing like a broken fridge and the band are attracting tags like ‘the new Strokes’ and comparisons as wide-ranging as Sonic Youth, Teenage Fanclub and Dinosaur Jr.

The quintet are London-based but have an international line-up which includes members from the US and Japan, alongside the London-born core duo of ex-Cajun Dance Party bods Max Bloom and Danny Blumberg. There’s little stylistic similarity though between CDP’s spikily adolescent indie-pop (which, in its infancy, garnered a similar level of buzz-band mania) and this new project.

Superficial it may be, let’s divert for a moment to talk about Yuck’s choice of moniker. It’s bad. And until the band reach that level of iconic status where the word itself has no relevance and the name takes on its own associations, it’ll stay bad.

Now, having heard this, Yuck’s debut album, do we believe the hype? Kinda. Though they formed in late 2009, the four-piece sound something like the archetypal indie-rock band of the early to mid nineties, caught between grunge and Britpop. Passing swiftly over the opening ‘Get Away’ (because it feels uncomfortably like mid-career Ash – not a good start) we move into the meat of the album: a slow-brewing concoction of shoegaze and underwater melody. My Bloody Valentine are clearly an influence, most strongly on the submerged fuzz of ‘Operation’, but in amongst the densely layered, fuzzily melodic haze, there are moments of simple, straightforward clarity, like ‘Suicide Policeman’, over which the spirit of Elliot Smith seems to hover like a ghost at the feast, and the gently tuneful ‘Shook Down’, which sounds like Buffalo Tom covering Pixies whilst heavily stoned. Vocals stay low in the mix throughout and are often subject to fuzzy FX, but the standout track is the instrumental ‘Rose Gives A Lily’, which washes back and forth like Mogwai.

As for the comparisons being thrown around, well whilst there is an occasional passing resemblance to The Strokes, this record doesn’t have either the immediacy or the sharp pop hooks of ‘Is This It’, and the likelihood of Yuck’s eponymous debut having the same commercial impact as Casablanca and Co.’s first and finest has to be pretty remote. And yet ‘Yuck’ is by no means a bad album. It moves fluidly from song to song, is not at all bereft of hooks, and often rattles along at indie-pop pace and if you’re yet to see them live know that these songs sound their best in a pokey pub somewhere. And although Yuck are a long way away from being anything to get rabidly excited about, they’ve produced the kind of music that has the potential to inspire a cultish devotion, if enough people latch on to its understated charms.

By Chris Watkeys

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