It can often be difficult for a band to live up to the hype produced by their first album and deliver a fully satisfying sophomore release, but Yuck’s new album, Glow & Behold, has an even bigger burden to bear than just the typical second record stress. After the departure of their lead singer and frontman Daniel Blumberg, guitar player Max Bloom stepped up to become the main singer and songwriter for the band. Blumberg and Bloom co-wrote the entirety of the band’s first self-titled album and their cooperation lead to a spirited and energetic revival of 90’s indie rock. But on Glow & Behold, much of the energy and impact has been drained, leaving an album that retreads a lot of tired ground without the charm to distract you from realizing that you’ve heard this all before.
Yuck has always been a band that wears their influences on their sleeves almost to the point of imitation rather than as references. But whereas the songs on their self-titled album were sharp and punchy enough to sound fresh, most of the tracks on Glow & Behold meander until they run together into a big mushy pile of 90’s nostalgia. Most of the album, despite some moments that feature great ideas and some genuine inspiration, tends to drag together without leaving much of an impression at all.
The two singles are easily the best of the bunch. “Middle Sea” is the fastest and most powerful song on the album and is the most reminiscent of the catchy and fuzzy tracks like “Georgia” from their debut. The distortion is heavy and the vocals hit harder here than they do anywhere else on the album. “Rebirth” is steeped in warm shoegaze tones with an anthemic riff that leads into an unexpectedly electronic outro of throbbing synths and heavy drumming which turns out to be a pretty cool affect. There are plenty of good ideas here, but most of the songs get bogged down by mid-tempo strumming, a lack of structure and a tendency to simply redo things that worked from their first album. The two instrumentals, “Sunrise in Maple Shade” and “Twilight In Maple Shade (Chinese Cymbals)”, sound very similar to “Rose Gives a Lily” from their debut, but they go nowhere and repeat one riff with little elaboration or anything that might make them interesting. “Mineral Fields” sounds almost exactly like “Suck”, but it’s also one of the better songs on the album so it’s easy to forgive that.
The second half of the album, however, is not so easy to forgive. The stretch between “Somewhere” and “Twilight In Maple Shade (Chinese Cymbals)” is a long section of low-key slowcore and acoustic pop that drags to the point of boredom. Save for the warm indie pop and scorching outro of “Glow & Behold” and a heavy hitting guitar solo at the end of “How Does It Feel”, there is little that stands out to save the second half from being a total bore.
Although there is plenty of good to be found on Glow & Behold, it’s hard not to miss the charisma and spirit that went into Yuck’s debut. What’s left is an album that sounds like it was made as an obligation with no charm or emotion underneath it to elevate it past mediocre. It’s a disappointing record, but there is enough good here that I’m still excited to see what Yuck will do next.
RIYL: My Bloody Valentine, R.E.M, American Football
Stream the album here: