Yuck dropped one of the most surprising and enjoyable chunks of music nostalgia in 2011 with their debut album. There was plenty to sit back and get reminiscent about on that record. My Bloody Valentine, Dinosaur Jr, Lush, and even bits of Pavement’s DNA were found all over that ratty, scrappy record. But the nice thing was that head Yuckster Daniel Blumberg wasn’t satisfied with being just some early 90s alternative jukebox. No, he gave these old, classic noises a new life. With his youthful whine and scrappy guitar squall Blumberg and co-Yuck founder Max Bloom seemed to be on the way to being the next great band out of the UK. Then Daniel Blumberg decided to leave Yuck(cue Fat Possum Record executives long sigh.) So what’s a promising, young, alternative rock band to do? Pick themselves up by their bootstraps and keep on keeping on. Max Bloom stepped into the lead singer spot and along with fellow bandmates Mariko Doi, Jonny Rogoff, and Ed Hayes got back to the studio and recorded the proper follow-up to that great self-titled debut. Glow & Behold is both triumphant and bittersweet. Triumphant in that the rest of Yuck proved they didn’t need Blumberg to continue on with making great music, but bittersweet in that it’s a reminder of what might have been had they been able to keep together.
“Sunrise In Maple Shade” opens the record in instrumental mode. The doorway through to the house that 90s indie rock built. Close your eyes and you swear it’s a Terror Twilight lost track. Soon enough “Out Of Time” rolls in and its melancholy chord changes and Real Estate vibe sucks you right in. Max Bloom lacks the whine that Blumberg made Yuck’s trademark sound, but that’s not a bad thing. Bloom’s voice is more assured and can carry a melody further than Blumberg could. The band as a whole seem more confident and less ramshackle. Maybe it’s having one album under their belt, or maybe it’s that Yuck V.1 was a completely different band. Either way, this isn’t a group attempting to rekindle that band’s “magic”. This is a band moving on. “Lose My Breath” is another great upbeat song that captures both the grit and glitter of some of those great alternative pop college radio staples. Something like a Jesus and Mary Chain and Hope Sandoval mash up. “Rebirth” is a haze of Kevin Shields-like guitar noise and a pop hook that will embed itself in your brain for days. I don’t think Yuck V.1 would’ve gotten away with this sort of wide-eyed songwriting. “Nothing New” is acoustic strums and girl group minor key drama that would’ve sounded right at home on a Teenage Fanclub record. “Glow And Behold” closes the record on a Big Star-meets-Ride vibe, which then rides the album out on a single guitar loop.
The biggest change since Blumberg left is that the production is decidedly more “hi-fi”, and the songwriting is much more open-hearted and earnest. There doesn’t seem to be any need to hide those big, sappy pop hooks in guitar noise, feedback, and disenchantment. That debut was lightning in a bottle. It was an anomaly that rarely happens when bands wear their influences so proudly and openly, and at times this new album seems to lack a bit from not having that debut’s scrappy charm. But Glow & Behold was never meant to be that debut all over again. It’s essentially a new beginning, and Yuck is off to a good start.