This time last year Yak were a little-known hype band, riding the small wave of the success their first few singles on Fat Possum Records brought. They managed to attract a few hundred fans into their feral Field Day set who stood in awe or bewilderment as frontman Oli Burslem acted like somebody with ADHD on a Hunter S Thompson-style chemical trip.The Stooges-esque band with supremely well played punchy fuzz laden bass, distorted guitar, and heavy drum grooves made for the perfect accompaniment to go wild.
Now, they've become one of the most in-demand new bands in the UK. The London-based three piece have been spurred on by the release of the three track No EP on Jack White's Third Man Records, produced by Steve Mackey – he’s been hired again for Alas Salvation. Also, a few fashionable support slots, and a series of buzzy intimate headline shows have helped fertilise their fast-growing following who’ll be eagerly anticipating their first full length - which in true punk style, is self-released on a label they call Octopus Electric.
The opening three tracks on it show the band paying homage to the first wave of punk with scratchy distorted guitars and relentless pulsating rhythms. However, it's far from one dimensional. The album is the channelling of a personality that pushes itself to the limit. Down moments are accounted for too. The physical sacrifice it takes to capture that pure adrenalised guitar sound takes it out of someone and Yak haven't attempted to hide that. There’s a delirious feel to ‘Wilting Away’, and ‘Roll Another’ sounds like a sonic reflection of a deeply troubling hangover.
The tracks that combine these two contrasts are among the most gripping. 'Take It' starts out like a stoned psych pop cut but descends into the haunted cavernous outbursts that make this album so wildly entertaining. Elsewhere, 'Smile' starts as a Nick Cave-esque verse with clean guitars that allows Burslem’s baritone to shine. However, the listener isn't allowed to settle - Burslem is out there to throw everything he's got at you in the latter half of this song.
The best consistently high tempo cut - not only on this LP - but on any radio playlist at the moment is 'Harbour The Feeling'. As the band become more of a household name, huge crowds will be getting involved in circle pits thanks to the ferocity of it, and straightforward chorus, that begs to be chanted along to.
Less formulaic than the above, and by far the most experimental indulgence on the album is 'No Glitter, Just Gutter' - an interlude which would suitably soundtrack a horror film. It adds to the overall sense that the band have lost their minds in the process of making this album, and makes the whole listening experience completely immersive.
Yak have nailed their debut album, and exceeded the high expectations put on them from the beginning. Don't let them pass you by.
8Cai Trefor's Score