Leeds, England outfit Yard Act, who consist of former Post War Glamour Girls frontman James Smith (vocals) and Menace Beach's Ryan Needham (bass), unleash a savagely brilliant debut album in the form of The Overload. Smith and Needham are joined by Sam Shjipstone (guitar) and Jay Russell (drums) as they shine a light on the fractured nature of society with a mixture of acerbic wit and deadpan ennui. Beats, loops, and grooves meld with Smith's biting monologues which, whilst owing a debt to the lineage of punk poets such as John Cooper Clarke, take the medium into an exciting and contemporary new place.
The music scene in 2022 seems like it needs a bit of a refresher. While the likes of Ed Sheeran and Adele are undoubtedly talented, there’s something very safe about them. What’s needed is a band who take risks, who sound utterly refreshing and will make parents around the country bang on bedroom doors, yelling “what the hell are you listening to?”.
From the album's title track we're reintroduced to the antagonistic voices that have cropped up in previous singles -- the bigoted bloke down the pub telling them to "kick that dickhead singer you've got out the band", in a piece of self-abusive cynicism for vocalist James Smith's own opinionated narrator to rally against throughout the album. "Payday" and "Rich" bring ideas of capitalism and social divide to the forefront through a reoccurring criticism of local British small-mindedness. Through a lens of heavy sarcasm and without having to be too obvious, the finger is pointed at those frauds in charge, glamourising poverty and lying their way to their own riches.
'The Overload', like the band that created it, is a product of the pandemic. A product of a space and time that we're not hoping to relive any time soon. So why is it that I have this album on repeat since it slid onto the streaming platforms? It was Yard Act themselves who answered my question. Tweeting: "When the clock strikes twelve, the record is no longer ours." They're letting it go.
Yard Act are what happens when The Streets and Arctic Monkeys fans grow up. Led by vocalist James Smith and bassist Ryan Needham, their satirical take on the world's condition is uplifting, proving that even within the music's familiarity, something truly original can be created. Smith's lyrics and delivery move between hilarity and heartbreak: Dead Horse examines the post-Brexit landscape as Smith asks, "Are you seriously still tryna kid me that our culture will be just fine, when all that's left is nobheads Morris dancing to Sham 69?" 100% Endurance is an emotional ending to the album; the weight of cynicism suddenly lifts: "It's all so pointless, but it's not, though, is it? … Death is coming for us all, but not today; today you're living it, you're really feeling it.