There is no lack of American bands trying to sound British; rarer is the British band that, for some reason or another, wants to sound American. London’s Yuck is very much that band, and on their self-titled debut LP they explore a wide range of sounds within a fairly limited subgenre: ’90s indie rock. These four guys and one girl (frontman Daniel Blumberg’s high school-aged sister) hit the blog scene in early 2010, and since then their various MP3s have been (justly) inextricable from the words “Dinosaur Jr.” and the overused but always welcome “fuzzed-out.”
What The Pains of Being Pure at Heart did for one set of late-’80s and ’90s indie reference points, Yuck does for another: that is, they throw them all in the blender and hand you the fizzy, bittersweet results. The members of Yuck have the benefits of hindsight and high-speed Internet, and so they get to cherry-pick the very best ingredients: Pavement’s talent for making total nonsense resonate emotionally (“I used to choreograph animals in the sea”), J. Mascis’ tendency toward sloppy, overlong guitar solos (opening track “Get Away,” a masterclass in tension and release) and Yo La Tengo’s blue-lit, burned-out balladry (“Stutter”). Parsing out this album’s reference points will be half the fun for some, but you don’t need to be intimately familiar with the Trouser Press Record Guide to close your eyes and let “Rubber”‘s waves of noise wash over you.
It all brings to mind a little band from Albuquerque that was, at one time, in thrall to the very same sorts of sounds as these guys (albeit at a time when those sounds were a bit more popular — this was the mid-’90s). They were called Flake Music, and they released one album of Built to Spill-lite jams before finding their own voice and renaming themselves the Shins. The songcraft on display here indicates that a similar crossover future is not outside the realm of possibility for these young Brits. Of course, if they’re just as into ’90s indie ideals as they are ’90s indie rock, then they probably couldn’t care less.