Album of the Week: Yuck - Glow & Behold

Glow & Behold, Yuck’s first record since the departure of ex-frontman Daniel Blumberg (in favour of equally formidable Jim O’Rourke-esque solo project Hebronix) sees the four-piece - now with guitarist Max Bloom on songwriting duties - putting aside their crushes on Superchunk and Dinosaur Jr in favour of a more autumnal and subtle record that has far more in common with Blur’s Modern Life Is Rubbish than the distorted Sonic Youth-isms of their 2011 debut.

First single ‘Middle Sea’, however, serves to finish where Yuck left off, with Bloom’s catchiest riff to date and strikingly great production from Beach House, Grizzly Bear and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ engineer Chris Coady. With some insistent vocals and a great horn-augmented outro, ‘Middle Sea’ finds the band sounding far more purposeful and achieving the Yo La Tengo-esque fuzz-pop perfection that the Blumberg-driven band strived for in 2011, leaving room for some more ambitious and sophisticated songwriting on the rest of the LP.

Certain cuts such as ‘Rebirth’ and ‘Lose My Breath’ feature more dense production and all-encompassing melodic lead guitars like those of Kevin Shields and Glow and Behold could be seen as one of the first post-MBV records, with bassist and drummer Mariko Doi and Jonny Rogoff clearly taking cues from My Bloody Valentine’s rhythm section. More interesting still are the Silver Jews-esque tones and melodic turns of ‘Out of Time’ and real standout ‘How Does It Feel’. When compared to similarly-paced tracks from the first record like ‘Suicide Policeman’, the confident songwriting and more direct lyrical approach (no 2-line wig-outs like ‘The Wall’ here!) show just how far the band have come. The gentle Britpop psych-rock anthem of the eponymous closing track serves as the crowning achievement on an album full of expertly-crafted hits, well-deployed horns and unforgettable melodies.

Yuck have now proven themselves to be far more than a gateway band for those hesitant to delve into 90s Indie Rock, and while the chain of influence on Glow & Behold is still pretty unashamed, Bloom lets himself work within the songwriting paradigm of Stephen Malkmus, David Berman and Damon Albarn in exploring his own predispositions for gorgeous melodies underwriting personal grief.

5/5

Emmett Cruddas

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