When I was very much younger, a compilation album was released unironically titled “Danger Zone”. The TV spot had lots of images of extreme sports and jet skis and most of all, Blur’s Song 2 playing over the top. But as all the cool kids know, the best songs on any compilation album are actually on disc two. And it was there I discovered my love for Dinosaur Jr, and all their alt rock, grungy goodness. For a couple of years now people have been talking about a grunge revival, and with Yuck being likened to Dinosaur Jr and Sonic Youth, I started to wonder if I should be paying attention.
First track, and first impressions were good. “Get Away”, recently released as a single, is everything you’d want in a grunge record. Straight in with a fuzzy wall of guitar, dissonant riffs and angsty lyrics. Second track “The Wall” has definitely cropped up on the radio and in shops. It’s upbeat and catchy, but instantly recognisable. Overall a good piece of fun. So far, so good.
But as you get further into the album, a nagging doubt starts to build. Sure, this song is pondering along nicely, but, what did the last track sound like again? From a strong start, the album increasingly becomes dominated by gentle, self-interested songs. It’s not that the louder rock music isn’t on there, it’s just much of it feels almost like rock by numbers. Riff, lyrics. Other riff, other lyrics. And while some of the quieter songs are attractive and interesting, as many are frustratingly twee.
There are other stand out songs. “Georgia” sounds like being a teenager, and is a great sing along to boot. And the final track, “Rubber” is a refreshing change of pace, which is strange, as it’s noisy and slow and hypnotic. It’s like the band suddenly realised that if you’re gonna write boring songs, you should do it properly- with the fuzzy on 11, starting straight at your feet.
A cynical part of me believes Yuck have been picked up and promoted because the boy/girl vocals, and the quiet, pretty songs bare some resemblance to The XX, and some clever person has smelt money around them. There’s definitely more to them than that, but it just doesn’t pan out quite as nicely as you’d hope. There’s something good to listen to here, but something a little disappointing too.