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ALBUM RELEASE: YAK – ‘PURSUIT OF MOMENTARY HAPPINESS’

WORDS BY: MATTY PYWELL

Pursuit Of Momentary Happiness is Yak‘s sophomore album, coming almost three years after their debut record Alas Salvation. British indie music has had mixed fortunes of late, not many of the artists can really claim to be making music that’s very original or thought-provoking, a lot of them relying on re-hashing the sounds of old, to keep hold of a demographic fiercely loyal to anything with a guitar in it. This isn’t to say that all British indie bands are terrible, quite the opposite, you just have to wade through a swamp of mediocrity to get to the good stuff. I am here to tell you whether the new Yak album belongs in the swamp, or the green grass beyond it.

The first sound you’ll hear on this record, is that of a pan flute on Bellyache, used to signal the start of the industrious and mechanical repetition of, “you’re tired of greedy bodies”. The song’s lyrics point towards gluttony within society, the belief that money is power and once we get money we want more and more and more. Perhaps it could be perceived as a slight jab at capitalism. The track is erratic, there are ever so slight elements of psychedelia buried deep within the sound, under the brash riffs. Starting off slowly, Fried bursts into a more volatile and chaotic punk-rock track, boasting riffs that remind me of last years Shame record Songs Of Praise.

Words Fail Me sees singer Oliver Burslem being unable to open up and express his feelings in key moments. It features some really crisp and momentous orchestral sections, which pop up every so often throughout the run-time. They peak during the songs outro and it makes for a thrilling climax, but before we get to that point, the track is such a slow-burner that It’s doesn’t really justify the buildup to get to the momentary climax. In contrast, Blinded By The Lies is a non-stop adrenaline rush, the guitar riffs shred to the effect of an incoming stampede, as the lyrics point a middle-finger towards people of upper-class backgrounds who are drawn to big cities like bees to a hive. On one bridge, Oliver screams, “Kick em’ in the face!” over and over, while the drum-kit sounds as though its being butchered by a mace, it’s beautifully violent, one of the most satisfying kicks in the eardrum you will ever have.

Then there’s a rather pointless interlude track, that is honestly on the album for no real reason other than to fill space, there’s nothing particularly interesting about it at all. But then we’re straight back to where Blinded By The Lies dropped us off, with the equally vicious White Male Carnivore. But aside from having some gloriously animalistic hooks, what impresses me most about this song is the lyricism, seemingly pointing towards the sense of toxic masculinity within society. “With a low pain threshold. Am I the glass house throwing stones?”, in my interpretation, theses lyrics refer to how, stereo-typically, men are supposed to be big and tough, almost unfeeling, which is complete rubbish, men have a right to feel comfortable talking about their feelings. The culture of ‘bottling it up’ is toxic and a killer.

The final cut on the album, This House Has No Living Room is a little bit of a mixed bag. Running for about 8 and a half minutes, the track has a lot of space to fill, the first part centering around this decrepit house, which is seemingly stuck in a soulless, empty land. The first part of the song does get a little bit repetitive though and doesn’t really have anything interesting to say. It suffers from similar problems to Words Fail Me, there’s a brief moment of intrigue as the song reaches a slight crescendo half way through, but this then dissipates in to a combination of bird noises and synth. While the bird noises are relaxing, it adds nothing to the meaning or context of the song, I feel like the last two minutes of the track should have been cut completely.

 

Overall, this record confidently makes it over to the green grass. There are some fantastic guitar hooks on this record, especially on Bellyache and Blinded By The Lies. I feel as though the lyrics give an accurate portrayal towards modern-day societal attitudes, especially concerning capitalism, greed and our everyday struggle towards finding what makes us happiest. A couple of the tracks get bogged down by being a little bit too ponderous in their buildup and the last song is a disappointing bookend, but overall Yak have made an album that encapsulates the best elements of modern-day guitar music.

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perfect body psych

EP: Bubblewrap Collective Presents Perfect Body & Zac White

Words – Richard Samuel

When it comes to psychedelic/shoegaze indie, Wales punches above its weight with its most famous export the Super Fury Animals still flying the flag well across the globe. Cardiff-based Bubblewrap Collective are keeping up that fine tradition. The label, who were behind 2017’s successful split EP with Boy Azooga and Buzzard Buzzard Buzzard, have just dropped their latest split EP release from psych-upcomers Perfect Body & Zac White.

Kicking off the two-track release, Cardiff’s Perfect Body. Formed in early 2017 and inspired by the sonic experimentation of bands like My Bloody Valentine, Stereolab, and The Brian Jonestown Massacre, Perfect Body are one of the highly-tipped in the Welsh capital. Having secured a place on the Green Man Rising stage earlier this year, in just over a year the five-piece have secured huge support from music outlets including Drowned in Sound, BBC Introducing alongside the PRS Foundation backed artist development scheme – Forté Project.

Upon pressing play, Perfect Bodies present us with the delicious pysch-pop track ‘Fields’, the music equivalent of sinking a pint of your favourite ice-cold beer. The distinctively polished production gives a garage-pysch feel to the reverb smothered hooks, the woozy glacial synthesisers that really drench in character from the otherworldly three-way vocals haunt the track. There is a certain haze and shimmer that shrouds the track, in turn making you envisage the band huddled together to record in their bedroom. Perfect Body retain pop sensibilities making it a wholly accessible listen, taking you on a trip that knows where it’s going but via the lovely scenic route to get its destination. Whether you want an easy or complex listen, this track has it both.

Zac White perfect body

Next up, 19-year-old Zac White. Honing his own sound based on influences such as Wilco, Loose Fur, Sonic Youth and Broadcast, Zak’s 90s/00s off-kilter indie sound has grown from minimal arrangements with drummer Ethan Hurst into a rollicking, reverb-drenched, garage-psych experience; or so we’re informed by the accompanying press release.

Zac’s new single ‘Spent On You’ featured on this split EP differs from that of which Perfect Bodies offer. Whilst it’s more accessible for a casual listener, once again the musician retains his soon-to-be trademark pop sensibilities with a contemplative sun-kissed melody, bounding baselines, and glistening riffs tiptoeing into a heart on the sleeve sing-along. Its hazy-pop perfect for those clear sunset evenings that the autumn brings.

The record – pressed to limited edition purple and orange vinyl – will be released on November 23rd, which you can Pre-order here.

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