I suppose there are two things that spring to mind when we first approach Yuck. The first being, of course, the BBC's Sound Of 2011 list, and the second is Cajun Dance Party. We all know it’s never fair to tackle an album with any expectations, but we also all know that it’s almost impossible not to, especially when hype is already circulating. The Sound of 2011 list has been a great cause of debate this year, and the way it seems to allocate hype to bands almost at random doesn’t seem logical.
Now that’s all out the way we can ask, how good a record is this? And, just as my opinion is blurred before I press play, so it still is when I press eject. This is a good album, but it's also unexciting and predictable. Above anything else, its nice to spend some time listening to a guitar band again. When sub genres like post-dubstep seem to be hogging all the room for creative invention, Yuck are carving their own space for six-stringed nostalgia. And nostalgia is exactly what it is, because as soon as we listen to this record, the early nineties indie influences, such as Pavement, are plentiful. The problem is Yuck make heaps of songs that would later become your favourites, but none that you’d hear on the radio and scribble down the name of.
In the context of the album, however, opening track ’Get Away’ successfully grabs our attention. The song launches straight into the heart of Yuck and conveys at once the ideas the band are playing with; catchy indie anthems with air-guitar worthy choruses. In fact, the whole of the first half of this album beholds pretty upbeat guitar tunes (tracks including ‘The Wall’, ’Shook Down’ and ‘Holing Out’), each with its own charm and personality.
‘Suicide Policemen’ breaks this up, introducing the albums first (but certainly not last) acoustic guitar appearance. The song probably has the band's most interesting lyrics, which pose the question, ‘If you have another drag of that cigarette would it be so bad?’ ‘Suicide Policeman’ proves that Yuck have the ability to write mature music and an understanding of what contemporary, as well as early nineties, indie albums need to function. ‘Georgia’ follows this, and is the bands closest thing to a indie club hit. Yuck perhaps don’t quite achieve this, at times the lyrics fall just below coherence, but maybe its “failure” to reach this status isn’t a bad thing?
With the exception of ‘Operation’, the latter half of this debut takes a step towards more melodic pop songs, resulting in tracks that ultimately blend into one, bringing very little else to the table. The best of this bunch is ‘Sunday’ which sums up what these later tunes are getting at, and does it very well. Again we are filled with nostalgia, feeling like we’ve heard it long before, somewhere on a summer's afternoon.
Finally, concluding track ‘Rubber’ is by far the bands most ambitious and most exciting. Over the course of the seven minutes the song gently builds, encompassing everything the album has suggested beforehand. The repetition works well, and by the time the guitars are being smashed, we are fully engrossed. More than anything else, ‘Rubber’ certainly has the most potential to become the anthem this band seem to desperate to try and create.
So as you can see, Yuck is a difficult album to pin down. This is not because there are too many ideas floating around, or because the band don’t know what they want, but simply because it’s good, but also kind of not good. It’s uneventful and unoriginal, and at times even quite boring. But they are solid, well structured songs. They are catchy and, individually, enjoyable. In fact most of these songs, on their own are pretty good, but when combined together in one album, they struggle to hold their own, and eventually get lost within themselves.