Yuck probably never expected to be a mainstream cross-over. They have a name that is unpleasant, both in terms of definition and onomatopoeia, peculiar album cover aesthetics and a focused drone-rock sound that is never going to bother national airwaves. It didn’t stop them piquing alternative interest however. Their self-titled debut, 2011’s ‘Yuck’, was a shoegaze diamond, with lead single Get Away the perfect intro to the album.
The intervening two and a half years have seen the Londoners tour, lose a member and now return with a sophomore effort. But, even from first listen, ‘Glow and Behold’ doesn’t possess the same punch as its predecessor. They have moved on in terms of their sound but lost much of the Yuck-ishness along the way.
Opener Sunrise In Maple Shade is a perfect example of this. It’s a decent instrumental song, but its hymnal inflections and closing horn section betray Yuck as a band; this song could be anyone from U2 to Springsteen, or the scores of others in between.
It is then followed up by the Britpop of Out of Time before getting back to their shoegaze roots with Lose My Breath. Unfortunately, their step back to the genre resets the band’s sound to 1991. Lose My Breath could easily be confused for a My Bloody Valentine b-side somewhere around the time of ‘Loveless’; Mariko Doi’s vocals here a near perfect match for Bilinda Butcher’s over twenty years ago. The same accusation could also be levelled at Rebirth.
It’s not until halfway through the album and Middle Sea that we get the Yuck sound we know and love back. It’s like 2011’s Get Away but with an extra kick of tempo and the vocals lifted slightly above the drone – a departure from the first album that is reproduced on most of the track on ‘Glow and Behold’.
There are many good songs on ‘Glow and Behold’ – in fact it’s hard to make a criticism of anyone on its own merits – but it never really works as an album. It never really works as a coherent piece though; sounding more like a pick n’ mix collection of songs devoted to their influences – mostly ‘90s indie/alternative.
This is not the Yuck of their debut album. It is not a Yuck as worth listening to as a result. ‘Glow and Behold’ does see Yuck bravely turn a corner. It’s just a pity that the corner led them down an uneven road.