Yuck’s new album Stranger Things picks up where the band last left off: by attempting to recapture that lore of 90’s indie rock. They don’t attempt to reinvent the preverbal musical wheel of the shoegaze rock genre — nor do they try to modify it to breakthrough the clutter of lo-fi, fuzzed out vibes. Instead, Yuck and lead singer Max Bloom rest on their laurels to produce a sonically pleasing album that never advances the needle, but rather provides an enjoyable experience of simplistic rock music that touches on worrisome subjects.
Stranger Things makes listeners wonder if the lyrics are purposefully hard to understand. Yuck creates an overloaded sonic daze of reverbed vocals and blurred-out bass lines to only be complemented by a single guitar guiding the way. The confusion created with the over-distortion represents the ambiguity of relationships; questioning whether there’s ever an understanding between two people. These insecurities are announced on the opening track “Hold Me Closer” as Bloom sheepishly announces, “I wanna be the only best friend that you have” as he yearns for any sense of companionship.
The self-loathing and uncertainty of Bloom never transpires on Stranger Things as he dazedly seeks for a sense of peace — something he never finds. This search doesn’t really ever end, with Bloom experiencing severe bouts of self-doubt and social anxiety, “Like a moth, I see you/Burning like a flame/When I try to approach you/I get burnt away.” This dive Bloom takes into the deep-end of his emotions sound and feel rather shallow, though. He offers only the slightest amount of glance into his personal life; rather, he loves hiding behind his wall of noise and is still afraid to open up.
This emotional fragility that is so prominent does start to get tiresome, as it feels lazily put together from the beginning till the dying embers. Stranger Things features flashes of an acoustic sound near the middle of the album. This allows Bloom to open up about his mental anguish he is facing, but this quickly closed out with another wall of sound on the last song, “Yr Face”. This closing song is one of Yuck’s that is hardest to understand lyrically as Bloom hides behind their love of over production. It’s as if he is trying to hide from all the outside influences in life as he floats in between social situations.
Bloom’s constant retreat behind his band mates wailing instruments makes it hard to fully grasp what his overall concept of this album was supposed to represent. He brings a lack of cohesion and wit, which is only complemented by his dour mood. Stranger Things, and Yuck in general, will never be lauded for creating groundbreaking music that challenges or stretches the mind of the listener. What they put out draws heavily from the fuzzy, lo-fi garage rock sound that’s a perfect complement to a lazy day outside. However, with the time they took in between records and their “classic 90’s” indie influences they’re drawing from, Stranger Things is far from a perfect record. Instead, it’s the perfect lazy afternoon fodder to brighten up your day with guidance from a little bit of noise rock.
– Eric N.