Number 6 (and album of the year runner up)
The Overload – Yard Act (2022, Island Records, Taken from ‘The Overload’)
In 2021, Yard Act sort of emerged from nowhere, a band who had seemingly spent the best part of the lockdown perfecting their sound. A sound which sits almost snugly in the massive unfilled gap vacated by the sad death of Mark E Smith. That sound is an angular, arty post punk sound. It’s all disco drums that pretty punch you into submission, guitars that are all spiky and pointed and basslines that fight their way to the front and take charge. Pretty much exactly what any post punk should sound like. However, it’s when you add the vocals, half sung, half delivered in a deadpan way by front man James Smith that Yard Act really come alive. There is something about James Smith that is engrossing, the fact that lyrically he is more Jarvis than Mark E Smith, but vocally he is more Mark E Smith than perhaps anyone since Mark E Smith (I like to see this album as the sequel to ‘Perverted by Language’). Although it is a lazy (but obvious) comparison.
I think it’s the way that bands create characters and situations that people can relate to, Pulp did that very well during their golden period in the early nineties. ‘The Overload’ confronts post Brexit Britain and delivers a frankly waspish portrait of it, although literally no one disagrees with them.
“The age of gentrified savage….the overload of discontent”
It’s a wonderful track and rather splendidly heralded in one of the most unlikely number one albums of all time. That album captures perfect what I am inadequately saying above, it has brilliant song after brilliant song about alpha males, embezzlers, middle class gardeners, the stupidity of the far right.
The Incident – Yard Act (2022, Island Records, Taken from ‘The Overload’)
Quarantine the Sticks – Yard Act (2022, Island Records, Taken from ‘The Overload’)
The finest two moments of the album (with the exception of The Overload) are ‘Tall Poppies’ a seven minute epic that deals with a local lad, a most handsome man who becomes an estate agent and settle downs with a local girl and the gets cancer and dies. Then the music slows and virtually stop in its entirely and Smith continues with his delivery and the story and like everything else about this album, it is excellent.
Tall Poppies – Yard Act (2022, Island Records, Taken from ‘The Overload’)
The other standout track is ‘100% Endurance’ which has a gentle piano running through and it is this song perhaps more than others, which sounds like Pulp. It is again a story about the discovery of life on another planet, as told my someone with a hangover. It an infectious blast of brilliant optimism, all accompanied by the piano and a sweeping string section. Even the hastily rerecorded version with Elton John is marvellous.
100% Endurance – Yard Act (and Elton John) (2022, Island Records, Taken from ‘The Overload’)