A freezing cold Thursday night. A £20 train fine. Running across a motorway. Firemen smashing windows and evacuating buildings. The 17th of February was supposed to be a good day.
The plan was fool proof, take the train to the Southampton, walk to The Joiners and enjoy a night of close quarters live action. Early signs were promising; the train was on time and the sun was shining. The chance to see Yuck was one I immediately jumped at- their well documented recent rise has bordered the meteoric. Resultantly, not much has not been said about Yuck. However, the following may be their first ever live review for an abandoned gig…
Undoubtedly the show would have been largely material from the band’s recently released LP ‘Yuck’, which has picked up significant backing from Fat Possum (home of Tennis and Wavves) in the US. The record itself is simultaneously revivalist and au courant, as equally a product of 90’s Seattle as LA today. Dinosaur Jr comparisons are evident in perennial openers, ‘Get Away’, ‘Holing Out’ and ‘The Wall’ ; all a little dry and enthusiastic in the verse yet saved by fantastically melodic choruses. By the fourth album song, ‘Suicide Policeman’, heavy, more danceable tracks have made way for a change in tone and direction. Panning guitar slides in over acoustic before the album is yet again lurched out of place with the euphoric ‘Georgia’, Belle & Sebastian plus The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart boy/girl distortion pop.
Following a blistering start, the record breaks during ‘Suck’ and ‘Stutter’, a point to reassess and gear down expectation for the remainder. Both yearn of Pavement stylings, dare I say the most 90’s reminiscent tracks of the collection. Unfortunately, by ‘Sunday’, most of this charm has warn dangerously thin. Guitars begin to sound disappointingly bland, whilst any remaining acoustic undertones appear bored behind ‘Did you steal the rhythm from me? Yesterday I had it all’. This is until the record’s bookend and defining moment- ‘Rubber’. Positioned last as in live performances, the international 4-piece save their best till the end, somnambulistic vocal soothing a consummate melody over a perfectly contextualised rhythm section, bringing the Yuck experience to a close with indefectible levels of vigour and delicacy.
Were it not for an electrical fire in the Chinese take-away next door to the venue, all of this could have been mine. A decent sized crowd assembled and disassembled as mis-instruction after misinformation bleated between managers, band members and policemen. A promise that the headliners would appear either in full or acoustic form at around 10 was made, yet with no sign of any musical developments by 10.30, it was time to call it a night. Maybe the recently announced shows with Tame Impala will provide future platform for a more coherent live assessment, but for the time being Yuck remain 2011’s best and worst kept secret.
Album Rating- 75/100