Release Date: Feb 26, 2016
Record label: N/A
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Noise Pop
Yuck’s particular brand of ‘90s revivalism has never really felt like appropriation. There have been some bullseyes and a few misfires over the course of their career up to this point, but, despite borrowing a lot from the indie-rock aesthetic of the 20th century’s last decade, they’ve made all of it sound their own. Stranger Things may just be their strongest statement yet.
Head here to submit your own review of this album. It's been a rocky road for London garage-pop foursome, YUCK, since their inception less than a decade ago. Their self-titled debut album deserves to be on the record shelf of every self-respecting indie kid. Though it's arguably unoriginal in style, its fuzzed out melodies encapsulated that peculiar yet brilliant kind of melancholic guitar music, brimming with youth, teen-angst and heartfelt sincerity.
With their fittingly-titled single ‘Rebirth’ three years ago, Yuck underwent something of a transformation. Their guitar riffs grew larger and fuzzier, like they’d just taken a intoxicating swig of Alice in Wonderland’s ‘Drink Me’ moonshine. Their music grew ever more hungry and urgent, like an impatient reveler anticipating a Five Guys double patty cheeseburger.
It's a classic story, especially in the world of shoegaze and dream pop. Band makes noisy, raw, near brilliant debut album, then follows it with an album that bleeds out all the noise and energy and sets the course for the slick, mass-produced alt-pop mainstream. It happened to Yuck. Their first album was damn near as good as anything from the golden age of shoegaze, then their sophomore effort, Glow & Behold, was an effort to listen to all the way through.
Yuck have handled the departure of their frontman better than many would ever have predicted back in 2013, when it was announced that Daniel Blumberg would be leaving to “focus on other things”. That was just two years after the four piece released their critically-acclaimed self-titled début, which was full of fuzzy, shoegaze pop tunes that inspired comparisons with Dinosaur Jr. and Sonic Youth, among others.
After original frontman Daniel Blumberg departed Yuck between the 2011 debut and 2013's follow-up Glow & Behold, the London four-piece carried on and promoted guitarist Max Bloom to band leader. It was an unusual move and one that has saddled the band with possibly unfair comparisons to itself. This is not really the same group, and yet it kept the name and a similar sound.
In 2013, Yuck lead signer Daniel Blumberg made the questionable decision to leave the band in order to focus on his solo career. Stranger Things is the reshuffled four piece’s third release since, but does Blumberg’s contribution to their brilliant eponymous debut album still loom over them? Losing your lead signer is always going to have a detrimental effect on a band. But, it’s how a band reacts to that departure that separates the strong from the dependent.
Yuck don’t get enough credit for trying. Sure, genre revival isn’t the noblest of artistic pursuits, but their self-titled debut album came from such a clear place of love and appreciation for the music it was imitating that it was difficult not to go along for the ride. That debut, however, has become something of an albatross for the band, an ideal that, in the eyes of some, they have yet to equal.
While talk of the difficult second album has become something of a cliché, every now and then it does prove difficult for a band to capture the glory of their very first release. So it was with Yuck’s 2013 effort, Glow & Behold, which fell markedly short of the mesmerising lo-fi glamour of their 2011 debut. Then again, they had a good excuse – founding member and lead singer Daniel Blumberg had quit the band, leaving the other members scrambling to make up for his absence.
Undervalued in Yuck's music is their tendency to quietly oscillate between cheery and dissonant. On the third release from the London quartet, Stranger Things, the habit is more apparent than ever, even within individual songs.As on their previous records, Yuck's influences, ranging from Dinosaur Jr. to Smashing Pumpkins, are easily recognizable, but the reverence they show thereto is sometimes detrimental to Yuck really establishing their own sound.
Like the widening gyre in Yeats’ “The Second Coming”, pop culture is both cyclical and constantly expanding. For proof, look no further than the current obsession with the music and fashions of the 1990s, which has spawned literally hundreds of new bands that aspire to sound exactly like bands that peaked 20 years ago. Call it early onset nostalgia, call it a premature revival, or — to hell with LL Cool J — just call it a comeback.
Like 2013’s Glow & Behold and any future albums this lineup of Yuck might go on to record, Stranger Things carries an implied asterisk. This isn’t the work of the same band that released a lovably frazzled, fondly remembered self-titled album in 2011. Since frontman Daniel Blumberg quit the group and guitarist Max Bloom took over as its leader, Yuck have carried on as a faded copy of themselves, retaining their devotion to '90s indie rock but losing the misfit energy that made revisiting sounds that have already been recycled many, many times before seem like a genuinely exciting proposition.
Two years after the exodus of lead singer Daniel Blumberg, Yuck is left struggling to redefine itself. While half the charm of the band's self-titled debut rested on the album's earnest nostalgia for '90s indie acts like Dinosaur Jr. and My Bloody Valentine, Yuck's recent releases with new frontman Max Bloom ape such influences less successfully; what mimetic, if juvenile, appeal Yuck possessed on their freshman effort, manifest here as a failure to mature.
You know it’s a good year when there’s not one, but two jazz releases making the rounds outside of jazz circles for the right reasons. We miss great music all the time, and three months into 2016, there’s already subversive hip-hop, classic-rock revival and navel-gazing indie worth catching ….
The dream of the 90s has always been alive in England’s Yuck, and new album Stranger Things is no exception. That’s not a slight; their homages to the best of the plaid decade’s guitar rock are often inspired, and Yuck seem less like imposters than a time-travelling band blasted to the future from their real home. Stranger Things deftly runs through musical trends once popular, then killed off and now in vogue again, like shoegaze and noodly Britpop.
If last month was teeming with a strong assortment of bouncy electro pop, then this one was chock-full of indie rock releases. Carl wasn't too impressed with most of these month's rock-oriented offerings, including Wolfmother's brazen return, while Juan was somewhat disappointed with those that ….
The Londoners' sophomore effort, 2013's Glow & Behold, floundered following the departure of frontman Daniel Blumberg. Guitarist Max Bloom adopting vocal duties, the foursome's third LP hints resolve despite its deficiency. Self-recorded in their new singer's parents' house, Stranger Things commences crunchy via grungy "Hold Me Closer." Guitar-tone goodness glistens, but the leadoff single materializes as a bare-faced Built to Spill borrow nonetheless.