London, White Heat
1st October 2013
Shoegazers of a standard not as bad as their name would suggest. Not quite anyway…
Bands rarely survive the loss of a key member, so when it was announced that Yuck’s lead vocalist, Daniel Blumberg, had bailed the recording of album number two in order to “focus on other things”, I assumed that would be the last we’d ever hear of them. Five and a half months later, I find myself descending into a packed Madame Jojos for a show quite plainly advertised as “Yuck Glow & Behold album launch,” and feel the proverbial egg firmly landing on my face.
Fair play to them, they persevered. But to what end? If you’re in the Quietus camp, you might think ‘Glow & Behold’ is “as awful as the band’s name.” If you’re a Guardian reader, you might be more forgiving, calling it “not an entirely joyless album”. Live, Yuck are thankfully more in tune with the latter judgement, though, as you might have guessed, it barely qualifies as a compliment.
They begin tonight with ‘Middle Sea’, one of the better tracks on ‘Glow & Behold’, dropping the fucking annoying trumpet section and letting it breathe for the Dinosaur Jr.-esque head-rusher that it is. Before long, it becomes obvious that Blumberg’s departure was no great loss, but then, considering how similar him and now-frontman Max Bloom always were in terms of their guitar playing and vocal delivery, perhaps he was never any great addition.
Surprisingly, the set is split equally between new and old songs, which wouldn’t suggest a lack of confidence in the new material were it not for the band members looking uniformly unexcited the entire time. (Exceptions made for new guitarist Ed Hayes; I imagine it’s all new to him on some level.) That’s not to say the perceived indifference is shared by the crowd. A more than welcome surprise occurs when bassist Mariko Doi takes on lead vocal duties for debut album track ‘The Wall’, the higher pitch of her voice shining brilliantly through the fuzz of Bloom and Hayes’ guitars. Equally, their cover of New Order’s ‘Age of Consent’ is a great shoegazey reimagining of the ‘Power, Corruption & Lies’ opener.
After just ten songs, Yuck bring things to a close with another debut LP track, ‘Operation’, again missing an opportunity to celebrate the frankly miraculous existence of their follow-up album. Yuck? Not quite. On the strength of tonight, it’s a far more merciful “meh”.
All words by Will Dix. More writing by Will can be found at his author’s archive.