Sometimes – and it’s not that often, I can promise you – you hear a record that is so much more than the sum of its parts that you really can’t believe you’ve not heard it before. Can’t believe that a musical vision hasn’t been patented before. But that is what Yuko Yuko have achieved with their new LP. There are so many great things about Yuko Yuko’s More Than a Facebook Friend, it’s difficult to know where to start. Let’s begin, then, by saying that regardless of what I write, the music on this LP has that certain indefinable “something”. That something is the band’s knowledge that their music is special enough to inform us that they, (the band) are ‘where it’s at’. Make no mistake, Yuko Yuko are on the rise with More Than a Facebook Friend.
Far too much music is made to order nowadays. And too many bands (certainly over here in The Netherlands) seem to be stuck in a hinterland of indecision, unable to find a way to make creative peace with their influences, or hamstrung in (often lumpen) attempts to be acceptable or successful. With many acts, creating a meaning or vision can seem impossible, or meaningless. And showing personality is seen as dangerous. In this sense alone Yuko Yuko’s LP is a triumph. More Than a Facebook Friend is – very probably because of its waywardness and confidence and brilliantly self-absorbed nature – a triumph of personality over blueprint, wit over functionality, daring over box ticking.
Actually, the band aren’t doing anything different than they’ve always done for the past four years. And has been there for all to hear for ages. This bunch of Frisian scallies have been knocking out catchy pop tracks like Plane Babe, Borderline, Desire Song, or When I Cry I Smile for years, as well as making daft throwaway rackets like Towns, or indulging in side projects (Walbert MkII) that mean very little outside of their bunch of mates hanging outside De Lantaarn pub in Dokkum. They write lyrics that detail local sex, getting high, being bored, and being Gonzo casuals. What more do you need? Take this line from Unpleasantly Wet, a tale of copping off with someone dodgy. “We all know, your boyfriend’s like your brother”…. now that is fabulous; and has probably been in the back of many people’s minds for years, albeit unarticulated.
This feeling of pissing about on More Than… is everywhere and not just in the texts. Some tracks are slowed down, sliding or wobbling like some knackered old VHS tape being played one last time. The bleached-out fuzziness and tinniness of the sound may be a cute nod to their generation’s pretend-obsession with analogue. And the slobby half tracks (like XXX or the hilarious Hurry Up) could (if the band could be arsed to find out) pay homage to the cut ups on Bongwater, or Barry Adamson records. I kept thinking of Oedipus Schmoedipus when I first heard this LP. They share the bracing, brilliantly pitched mix of great, and non-songs.
But it is important to note that Yuko Yuko’s many borrowings are affirmations of their own style, and there to help them express themselves, rather than props to hide behind. The Robin Guthrie guitar sound on Wait For The Apocalypse is brilliant and, as a mood setter, a decisive element in the track, but I get the feeling that the video (which shows singer Elias mucking about in a dijk near a garden centre when it’s raining) is meant to puncture any thought that the band feel pleased, or are angling for compliments in making such a portentous racket. The way they destroy that serious-sentimental War On Drugs sound on Everything’s So Special About Me (by making it hysterical, overwrought and bleached out karaoke hell) is so great it makes me laugh every time. And who can resist that Happy Mondays “Bummed” swagger on Sharing Is Giving? The Mondays’ magic dust is brilliantly updated to the here and now. Maybe I’m over analysing but fuck it; the music is brilliant and it makes me want to over analyse it. You see, ripping things up and starting again and again, Yuko transcend, and stamp their own personality on anything they nick. This is a sure sign of pop genius.
Oh, and it’s an “anthemic” album. The pop songs – such as Heterosexual, Unpleasantly Wet, I’m Too Cool, or the title track – are brilliant. Balanced, sharp, and confident. I reiterate: this music is anthemic; glorious and full of a swagger that just can’t be faked. When I first heard the pop gem that is Two Boys, I thought that co-singer (and boss scally moll) Marritt Meinema was singing about “going down to 058” (Leeuwaarden) to buy some sweets at C&A. That she actually sings of getting “some sweet MDMA” was a bit of a come down to be frank. I mean it’s still a sharp line, but the fact I felt comfortable with them singing such a daft line about buying sweets in a local branch of a famous department store proves to me how flexible, and “welcoming” their muse is. While we’re talking about Two Boys, making Leeuwarden (a humdrum provincial town like Preston, or Koblenz, or Dundee, or Namur) sound like New York is classic, just classic.
This is provincial-international music, equally able to hold its own in Mexico, France or Leeuwaarden. And I make no apologies for bowing down to the brilliance of a bunch of 20 year old provincial kids. In fact, I’ve rarely felt so happy about writing a review if I’m honest, and rarely thought less about your reaction. I once heard a gobby scenester in Amsterdam slag them off because they were trendy, and “everywhere” in The Netherlands. This kind of petty opinion just underpins my own opinion that they should all go and live on a Caribbean island and become huge stars and fuck NL off. If you can’t appreciate their brilliance you might as well be done with it and go and watch Coldplay. But I hope you can all appreciate the brilliance, wit and charm of this LP. Listen in, and dig without delay.