Friday, 18 October 2013

REVIEW: Yuck - 'Glow And Behold' (Fat Possum Records)

In the two years following their self titled debut, Yuck experienced an upheaving line up change. When band members leave an outfit only a couple of years into their career, it can often be worrying, but when the frontman departs, most groups don't survive. However, Yuck's second LP shows that the magic didn't leave with Daniel Blumberg. Instead of leaving a gap, the line-up changes have enabled the remaining members to find more space for their ideas to flourish, and the new Yuck don't seem to be any less brilliant than before. Guitarist Max Bloom has stepped up to the role of main creative force, and has done a fantastic job of not only keeping this excellent band alive, but also carrying on making great records.  



Noticeably less energetic and more subtle in nature, the bright tranquility of the chiming instrumental opener 'Sunrise In Maple Shade' eases the listener into their more focused sound, and when Bloom's vocal is introduced on the honeyed indie-meets-dream pop of 'Out Of Time', it offers a more soothing tone than their previous moment provided. Musically it still takes plenty of inspiration from the 1990's, the radiant highlight 'Lose My Breath' pairing Teenage Fanclub rhythm guitars with Dinosaur Jr lead parts, and demonstrating their great ability to bless songs with ear-seducing hooks. A lot of this album sounds like it could have been released by Creation Records in the early 90's, and that's certainly not a bad thing.

The mournful glow of the tender, melancholic 'Memorial Fields' provides the LP's most downbeat moment, the beautifully sad, slowly rising trumpet towards the end adding the perfect topping. 



Their confidence is very much evident on the fantastic single 'Middle Sea', a carefree breeze of a tune driven by thriving riffs, a wonderfully infectious melody and the sound of youthful abandon. It also shows that their love of distortion pedals remains intact. On the lilting 'Rebirth', sheets of dramatic, woozy guitar contrast with that sweetly melodic touch, the signs clearly pointing towards 'shoegaze', while the slightly overlong 'Somewhere' is the record's least spellbinding moment, although its delicate introspection may grow on some listeners. Most of 'Glow And Behold' requires a few plays to sink in, but when it does, it's easily as rewarding as the first LP, perhaps more so. It's like soft, hazy sunshine being cast gently over the cold, melancholic winter, blessed with a sweet sullen sound and strong songwriting that makes up for the absence of the debut's more aggressive edges. 



The stunning 'Nothing New' is the biggest pop song they've crafted yet, not unlike Ash in their more reflective moments. They're certainly good at coming up with catchy melody that reach the heart, and as more of those elevating horns light up the final minute, it's a most charming listen indeed. The subtle, sometimes Bacharach-esque touches of brass also shine on 'How Does It Feel', a superb Pastels-like helping of tuneful sadness that delivers another sparkling high point. After the lovely post-rock atmospheres of the instrumental 'Twilight In Maple Shade' comes the somewhat Britpop-like title track that closes the album. Epic chord progressions, and more of that majestic brass give it a very Boo Radleys-esque feel, ending the LP on a positive, upbeat note. Even an unnecessary extended guitar outro consisting of a squalling riff looping for nearly two minutes fails to dull its brilliance. 



A far more cohesive record than its predecessor, 'Glow And Behold' is a warming collection of songs from a tight knit group completely at ease with their sound despite the significant departure of their frontman. It may have been a blessing in disguise which has allowed the band to move in a destined direction where they can truly excel. A fine album that is well worth your time. The more you let it grow, the more you will hear it glow. 8.3/10

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