Album of the Week: Yard Act – The Overload (2022 LP)

It’s not often a band can claim Elton John as a fan. It’s even less often when they can say that well before they release their debut album. For Yard Act it appears John is a massive fan of their whimsical, offbeat and humourous take on British post-punk. Proclaiming the band as his favourite new band, Yard Act impress massively on their debut The Overload, eleven tracks that will surely leave Sir Elton pretty happy with his decision to back them in so quickly.

A four piece from Yorkshire (Leeds to be more exact), Yard Act have managed to find their own little weird niche in the British scene, with lyrics speak-sung for the most part, and a mixture of traditional rock matched with an at times chaotic and dry delivery. If you’re yet to hear anything from Yard Act, picture something somewhere between David Byrne, Ian Dury and even Blur or The Streets. They’re the type of band that for every traditional rock sounding three minutes they have, there’s three other songs that sound nothing like anything else on the same release. This is evident from opening track and the titular “The Overload”, which opens like any guitar track would, before a manic opening verse and chorus, filling the remainder of the track with choice swears and an overwhelming understanding of its own self deprecation.

Not afraid to tackle the political discourse and downfall of modern Britannica, Yard Act and more specifically the delivery of lyricist and vocalist James Smith is the glue that holds the album together, from the brutal honesty of “Dead Horse”, the kooky, fun and off-beat “Payday” to the satirical masterpiece that is “Rich”. An honest and bleak commentary on the state of current affairs in their homeland (and honestly everywhere), Yard Act’s openness is refreshing in a world where politicians and those in positions of power need to be held to account for their increasingly blatant ineptitude.

Taking the album down a bit of a funk corridor, “The Incident” appears to be a commentary on cancel culture (and by all accounts of the song’s protagonist, they deserve to be cancelled). While a fictional tale, it’s an interesting conversation and one I’m glad is being represented in wider media. Following “The Incident” is “Witness (Can I Get A)”, the sharpest and shortest of tracks that sounds like it could have been written for The Vaccines’ first album.

The Overload feels like an album you’ll either love from the first listen because it’s so different and odd, or you’ll hate it from the first listen because it’s so different and odd. And that’s probably what has so far set the band apart from other fellow bands in a similar space. They genuinely feel like an act different enough that they may actually be more than a flash in the pan, not like so many other bands that have one great hit or album and then trail off into nothing-ness just as quick.

Incredibly well weighted, The Overload has hits strewn through it, including stand outs “Tall Poppies” and my personal favourite “Pour Another”, the latter of which has a Blur “Boys & Girls” vibe written all over it. Filled with classic indie guitar and organ/ synths, plus a chorus that will result in more than a few dance floors or sweaty pubs to be filled with joy and pure ecstasy from punters, “Pour Another” is The Overload at its best. Closer “100% Endurance” brings the listener and album to an existential realisation that even when you’re gone, life will still go on for everyone else, so while you’re here you may as well give it your all and enjoy it while you can. It’s a sentimental and enlightening end to an album that on a whole is filled with satire, cynicism and a dark view on the world.

It’s blatantly obvious Yard Act are onto something exciting. They seem like the type of band who wouldn’t really care too much for your opinion on whether you think their music is cool or if they’re trying too hard, but they’ll be more than happy to bring you along for the ride if you’re willing.

FOUR AND HALF STARS (OUT OF FIVE)

The Overload is out Friday 21 January.

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