Its a tricky predicament for any band to be in when the lead singer decides to up sticks and quit, even more so when he co-wrote the songs, played guitar and was a characteristic member of the group. So you can imagine, when UK fuzz lovers Yuck announced that Daniel Blumberg had decided to call it a day to focus on his solo project Hebronix, fans were reasonably crushed though equally shocked to hear the band would be continuing without him. Indeed, the band’s sophomore album Glow & Behold see’s guitarist Max Bloom (who also co-wrote the band’s 2011 fuzz rock debut) take the reins of the group as he leads them to a future unknown. Without his best buddy beside him, can he deliver the goods?
Well those in want of an instantly explosive return may be a little disappointed. We start proceedings on Glow & Behold with opening track Sunrise In Maple Shade, a completely instrumental song that, whilst featuring a dramatic punchy brass section, doesn’t follow suit with the debut record’s eclectic beginning of Get Away. However heading into the next track, Out Of Time, the familiar tune cruising that so many loved about the first album is not lost but in fact rather improved.
Having made their debut on Bloom’s knackered old 8-track recorder there were many limitations on the depth of the songs. The decision to go into the studio with producer Chris Coady sees the band take on a far wider scope with luxuriously textured tracks that elevate songs to their full potential. Nothing New, a slower number, really benefits from some added synth effects in the background as well as multiple guitar tracks and an atmospheric trumpet motif. Similarly, the first taster we had of the record, Rebirth is a track that really prospers from higher production with thick and muddy shoegaze guitars, Mariko Doi’s thundering bassline and an epic drum sound from sticksman (and famed afro grower) Johnny Rogoff.
Not that the band have become afraid to really let loose and indulge in the rawer side they were heralded for. Lead single Middle Sea is a fantastically rollocking track, exploding with the kind of grunge tinged energy that could make J Mascis blush. Similarly, Lose My Breath, detonates with a killer riff and stimulating melody that could have you believing it was a 90’s college radio classic. Both these songs showcase Bloom’s vocal abilities, perhaps a less gruff voice than Blumberg’s but by no means a mediocre one. Memorial Fields sees Bloom’s haunting words “I love my life in Maple Shade, to get away from dreams we’ve made” in a delicate yet perfectly suited whispered vocal that he further brings to use on the somewhat ballad-esque Somewhere.
Its refreshing to see a band take the loss of a member quite cleanly in their stride with Yuck. Its not a feat usually managed, bands often find themselves trying to replace or imitate the ‘missing link’. The remaining members have done a fine job in deciding to move on in dynamic and sound. The title and closing track Glow & Behold could be a Super Furry Animals hit, definitely a departure from the more Sonic Youth influenced debut album. The secret to surviving the loss of a band member? Leave them behind and make something new, its worked for Yuck. Hopefully the next album won’t take any casualties to achieve the same again!
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