It’s unusual for a band to continue after the departure of a lead singer. However, the London-based Dinosaur Jr. worshipping shoegazers Yuck decided to carry on without Daniel Blumberg earlier this year. The departure has allowed the former lead singer, Blumberg, the opportunity to focus on his new lullaby littered solo project, Hebronix, whilst allowing Max Bloom, former guitarist, the chance to shine as a frontman as he fills his shoes.
Bloom’s gentler approach to singing and songwriting has invited change in both the sound and dynamics of the band as Yuck shed the youthful nature of their debut for something a bit more composed and mature. Not all is lost though, as glimmers of who Yuck once were can be heard throughout the record. However, it’s the moments where the band truly captures who they really are now that are the most exciting.
Centred around a gentle droning riff, opener ‘Sunrise In Maple Shade’ demonstrates where Yuck’s loyalties now lie as the track focuses more on warm guitar subtleties, synth-y nuances, and crisp production as opposed to the fuzz soaked immediacy of their debut. That’s not to say that the immediacy of their debut is completely missing from this record though, it can just be found elsewhere on the album in the form of Bloom’s approach to lyricism. I can assure you that there will be no metaphorical equivalent to ‘Suicide Policeman’ on this album as Bloom avoids veiling his thoughts and feelings and, in turn, goes for a more direct approach. Whether he’s screaming “I want you now!” on ‘Middle Sea’ or sigh fully exclaiming “I don’t wanna be alone anymore” on ‘Somewhere’, Bloom’s honesty is undeniable. This honesty, however, is not always in his favour as lines like “I don’t wanna live forever/but I don’t wanna die together now”, found on the forgettable closer and title track ‘Glow & Behold’, feel less endearing and more awkward, like they’d feel more comfortable being delivered by a teenager brimming with angst.
The highlights of Glow & Behold can be found in the brooding slow-burners that are scattered across the album. ‘Memorial Fields’ is the perfect example of Yuck balancing their new found gentle dynamics with the bite and tension of their first record as Bloom’s dreamy vocals sit comfortably on building arpeggios which lead to one of the most satisfying chorus’ of the album. Melancholic instrumental ‘Chinese Symbols’ and the thoughtful ‘Somewhere’ follow in the footsteps of ‘Memorial Fields’ and feel like the natural progression you’d expect from Yuck as they elaborate on ideas planted in tracks like ‘Rose Give a Lily’ and ‘Suck’ from their debut. However, the confused nature of the record can’t be ignored. Whether it’s the fuzzy debut throwbacks ‘Lose My Breath’ and ‘Middle Sea’ or the soft-rock leanings of ‘Nothing New’ and ‘How Does It Feel’, it feels like this is less of a confident follow up and more of a second attempt at a debut as Yuck avoid creating something coherent which plays to the strengths of their new band dynamics.
Glow & Behold provides a comeback that is welcome but far from perfect. Let’s hope that Yuck’s next effort avoids falling back onto the pillow of their debut and manages to shake the premature stadium soft-rock, and instead, provides a more focused and confident experience.