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Yard Act

Review: Yard Act – Where’s My Utopia?

The self-titled “post-punk poster boys” Yard Act have returned with a fresh serving of tongue-in-cheek melancholia in their sophomore album, ‘Where’s my Utopia?’.

We were introduced to this new chapter of insightful irony and a main character that we follow through the visuals of the album “The Visitor”  with the release of an extensive stand-alone single ‘ The Trench Coat Museum’ – which doesn’t appear on the final pressing. This track is our first step (or boogey) into the funkier, sonic journey that the band takes us on with this offering.

The first track on the album ‘An Illusion’, is the perfect clue to the style of producer and Gorillaz drummer Remi Kakabar Jr, with its cheeky basslines, reverbed drums and retro samples. It seamlessly transitions into the already popular single ‘We Make Hits’ a classic from “post-punks latest poster boys” with their standard sardonic but silly lyrics with a catchy tune.

Self-deprecation has never sounded as funky and simultaneously unsettling as ‘Down By The River’. That haunting monologue that cuts spontaneously into the track shows another layer of self-reflection that the band underwent within this album. Lead vocalist James Smith told genius.com “I realised that if I was going to ask that empathy of the listener, then I should make sure that there was some corruption within me as well and highlight that I’m not some innocent person. It’s me dragging myself through the mud to let people know that I’m capable of being a dickhead just like everyone else.”

Other highlights of the album include the ace, top, class, etc track ‘Dream Job’. Much like ‘We Make Hits’ and ‘When the Laughter Stops’ (featuring Katy J Pearson) give you no choice but to mindlessly bop your head in reaction to the Yard Act precedent of experimental catchiness.

The band’s offering of music videos for the album follows a narrative that can be considered equally as quirky as the music itself with returning characters from the previous album ‘The Overload’ as well as combined fan and band favourite David Thewillis in ‘When the Laughter Stops’, of course, dressed in a trench coat and not so obviously quoting Macbeth post death of Lady Macbeth when his sense of futility in his own life falls down around him relatable in cynicism to the rest of the album. The vocal collaboration between Smith and Katy J Pearson stands out but works seamlessly in the running of the album.

Spoken piece ‘Blackpool Illuminations’ is another highlight of the album – a step back from the zany tunes on the rest of the album with another stark and believably, deeply personal monologue from Smith about his childhood holidays to Blackpool and growing up almost reaching that idea of  ‘utopia’ until interrupted with the question “Are you making this up?” which then spirals the narrative back down to Smith’s signature sardonic writing style.

Yard Act have once again displayed genuine cynicism in self-reflection and social commentary in The Smiths-esque way with jangling guitar riffs, funky bass lines and lots of cowbell. I think this new offering from the band is a great next step into the experimental world of post-punk in their own words, “If it’s not a hit, we were being ironic”.

Yard Act
4.5 rating
Total Score
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