If you’ve heard anything about Yuck and their self-titled debut album, it’s that these guys sound a lot like ‘90’s indie rock. With this and Male Bonding’s excellent 2010 debut Nothing Hurts, I’m starting to detect a trend of our friends on the other side of the pond trying their hand at the lo-fi that’s so prevalent in modern American indie rock. And, based on that and this, they’re giving us a run for our money for Clinton-era bluster. Yuck is a group in a long line of bands that wears what are now modern childhood influences on their sleeves. They’ve been welcomed relatively well here, but many have been turned off by the group, dismissing them as “Yuck La Tengo”, which insinuates that their sound is unoriginal and heavily referential.
The heavily referential bit I cannot deny. Listening to Yuck, you can’t help but think of at least two immediate influences on the group that are made quite obvious. Countless bands have been named, from Sonic Youth to Smashing Pumpkins. For me, Yuck alternates in style between Dinosaur Jr. and Static Prevails-era Jimmy Eat World. There is an argument to be made that the album’s best songs are largely enjoyed for their nostalgia factor. “Suicide Policeman” is an excellent acoustic ballad with a heartwarming concept and execution, but it smacks of Elliot Smith before the rest of the band takes it into the territory of Marcy Playground’s “Sex and Candy”. “Rubber”, the album’s closing track, devolves into a guitar fuzz jam, of which I love every minute, but I would be lying to you if I didn’t immediately find a direct correlation between it and ten other groups I couldn’t quite name. I’m sure that every song on Yuck can be linked to some group of the 90’s, but, and maybe this is because I don’t know enough about that decade’s music, Yuck sounds more like the sound of an era rather than just the work of one specific band of the past.
Regardless, there’s something to be said for good songwriting. Yuck may be heavily indebted to the groups that more than built the house they’re working in, but their debut album is nothing if not genuine, and, for what it’s worth, stands up pretty well next to the material of those aforementioned bands. Yuck is a display of excellent songwriting, tempered production and supple bass (which I’m convinced is a make or break aspect to any lo-fi album). It definitely has an alluring immediacy, but you will be surprised how long its songs stick with you long after you think the nostalgia’s worn off.