Today: Jun 17, 2024

Album review: “Glow & Behold” by Yuck

Xavier LassiterSpecial to the Southern News

In 2011 Yuck was one of the catchiest bands around. Their self-titled debut album sounded like a glorious nineties alternative revival. They mixed elements of Dinosaur Jr., Pavement, and Built to Spill, and the group had a certain “it” factor that made them a promising new band. So it was a shock when it was announced that front man Daniel Blumberg quit in 2013 to work on his own project. However, the remaining members decided to continue Yuck, unfortunately with mixed results.

“Glow & Behold” is an album that attempts to add a dramatic edge to their established sound. There is a grand, complex quality they try to achieve but it doesn’t translate well. The album showcases a more diverse collection of instruments than its predecessor, though the addition of trumpets and synth doesn’t make the music more sophisticated.

The songwriting on their first was great because it was energetic, and they sounded like they were having fun. “Glow & Behold” is littered with songs with sedated pacing, and the band doesn’t sound quite as enthused anymore. This wouldn’t be a problem if it didn’t seem like they were changing their sound to cater to the average indie fan.

There aren’t any songs like the playful and quirky “Suicide Policeman” or the instantly catchy “The Wall”, but the album does have highlights. “Lose My Breath” is hazy and upbeat, and is reminiscent of “Parklife” era Blur.  The first half of “Nothing New” is really pleasing, and is one of the only songs that sounds as emotional as they intended. But alas, those silly trumpets taint the ending.

The biggest change in sound is Max Bloom’s vocals. His singing is under the biggest microscope because he replaced Blumberg, the original frontman. Bloom’s crooning isn’t as exciting as Blumberg’s nasally shouts, so Yuck fans will have to endure a transition period. It may be unfair to compare the two, but Blumberg had a knack of enhancing routine chord progressions with his catchy vocal melodies and lyrics.

yuck-band

“Middle Sea” is a distorted and spirited song that sounds the most like their old low-fi sound. Though, there isn’t much flare or uniqueness that could separate it from the category of any old alternative song. In the verses, Bloom repeats “I don’t want to wait forever/I don’t want to wait, I want it now.” The repetition gets tedious, even though it is the same technique Blumberg used years before. I guess some can sell it better than others.

The album-closing title track has some of the best lyrics. Bloom sings, “When you’ve been waiting in line too long, and now your coffee’s been way too strong,” which is balanced with “I don’t want to live forever, but I don’t want to die together now.” It’s a happy balance between silliness and contemplation that I wish was on the rest of the album. Sadly, they decided to make the song an 8-minute anthem, that doesn’t exactly have direction.

“Glow & Behold” is a tad stale, but I’m only being harsh because this is a great album for an average band, and Yuck is capable of much more. Perhaps their first album was borderline pastiche, but it was genuine. In an attempt to reinvent themselves, they tweaked their sound a little too much. Yuck is a band that could have the same sound for three albums and it would totally be cool.

For a second there it seemed they could have been The Strokes, or Phoenix caliber. They took a step in that direction in 2011, but with this I can’t help but think they took two steps back.

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