Yard Act – Where Is My Utopia Album review by Ryan Beardsley.

Can we even call it a revival anymore? It seems like Post Punk has been back with us for years now and is more popular than ever and right at the forefront are West Yorkshire’s Yard Act as they face the horror of the difficult second album.

I’ve often thought that this challenge is even more difficult for bands in this genre because let’s be frank, you’ve made a record of talking rather than singing, where is there to really go except more of the same? (see every The Fall album)

It turns out there is a solution to this; hire a Gorilla(z) to produce the record, start singing, and throw just about every possible musical style at the wall and see what sticks. The question is, does it work here?

It actually does. Where Is My Utopia is something of a triumphant curveball.

An Illusion kicks off lulling you into a false sense of security as more of the same akin to The Overload, but then something happens… frontman James Smith starts to sing the chorus. The sound is baggy and funky, the chorus catchy and the production is skin-tight. What have we here?

The enhanced production is a running theme throughout, tracks that might have been filler are brought to life by Remi Kabaka Jr with a level of previously unseen sophistication that makes Yard Act sound like stadium-filling pros.

A pedant might say that it sounds a little too much like a Gorillaz record at times, with Smith’s vocals eventually beginning to resemble those of Damon Albarn/Murdoc Niccals, none more so on The Undertow, but it sounds cool so who cares.

Musically it’s a step up from The Overload also, there’s a variety of ideas none more so on Fuzzy Fish, which has so much going on it’s almost Wall of Sound-esque, not content with every instrument available they cram in samples from TV shows and movies to really test the cognitive listener.

Smith himself recently the band went “harder on the hooks and [have] crafted better songs.” he is right, there are hooks abound, particularly on Petroleum which is the album stand out, great bassline.

The only true misstep is Blackpool Illuminations which is a seven-minute recollection of a childhood holiday set to forgettable backing, but I’m sure that will please the die-harders.

But on the whole the record is a winner, a dodged bullet in many ways and a sizeable risk, which is to be commended. I’m excited to see how these tracks translate live and having a little dance.


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