With Yuck frontman and co-founder Daniel Blumberg off to pastures new, guitarist Max Bloom has received an internal promotion, as such, to take on the mantle of frontman. This rearrangement, as resourceful and personnel-retaining as it is, was always going to be the focal point of any critique sent Glow & Behold’s way. Such a transition is always going to be a threat to the identity of any band; Blumberg’s vocals were channeled through as much distortion as the guitars that they garnished, and was one of the key factors of defining the sound, and in sharpening a cutting edge that exemplified a brilliant debut record in 2011’s Yuck. Without him, Yuck are a band that isn’t quite as lo-fi or edgy as it was with him at the helm. The result? A different attitude to songwriting and a mellow, sun kissed sound that would be the perfect soundtrack for walks in a pretty park, or even a niche teen drama. It’s nice, and extremely easy to listen to, but you can’t help but look back to Blumberg’s influence in the band, and the lack of a cutting edge without him, and think that it was better when he was around.
It’s maybe a ploy on the part of Yuck, but Glow & Behold tantalizes an audience eager to forge a first impression on Max Bloom’s pipes with a 3-minute, wordless opening track that sprawls a riff much cleaner than what we’ve known the band to provide us with. It’s worth noting that it wasn’t just the vocals that Blumberg was responsible for with the band’s 2011 debut, but also a large part of the songwriting. From the outset, a less frenzied motif is present, and a resultant change of direction is one that Blumberg was not able to take with Yuck. The first two ‘proper’ tracks on the record provide us with that eagerly anticipated first listen of Bloom’s vocal capabilities, and it’s evident straight away he’s cut from the same cloth. His vocals do, however, mirror the lack of restlessness and pace found with the music in Glow & Behold, and are absent of Blumberg’s anamorphic fretfulness to boot. Yuck are the same band they were 2 years ago, but are now floating down a mere tributary to the main body of the band they burst onto the scene as with Yuck. Nevertheless, Out of Time and Lose My Breath are devastatingly catchy, and perfectly listenable even if they are lyrically forgettable, but the sure-fire dearth in the incisive lo-fidelirium that characterized the band will leave some fans of the band disappointed.
Where Yuck snatched at the rougher edges of SST’s hay day, conveying vestiges of Dinosaur Jr., Glow & Behold is shading itself under an umbrella endorsed by the likes of Teenage Fanclub. In other words, if you were to breakdown the sub-genres that were the make-up of their debut, and then reduce the garage and compensate by increasing the shoegazing elements, you’d get there or thereabouts to where Yuck are currently at. Middle Sea is perhaps the last full-bodied dose of garage found on the record, with the lo-fi tones and distorted, shimmering melodies making it the only track that would have been at home on the debut. The fact that it’s one of the highlights of Glow & Behold is perhaps indicative that the original direction was a more conducive one. Middle Sea is followed by another highlight, Rebirth, and this particular bit of track listing is an emphatic drawing of a line, unabashedly channeling My Bloody Valentine in a wall of shoegaze to emphasize the sound that Yuck are now ferrying.
Although the record loses its strength following the aforementioned tracks, it ambles along nicely enough for you to see it through without ever threatening to break down any walls. In an ideal world, if Yuck were to change anything, it would have been their quite frankly dreadful name rather than their frontman. The edginess and relatabilty to the A-List of early 90s indie rock that was achieved with their debut was a sense of identity for the band, and a crucial pull for a number of Yuck fans. If Glow & Behold was released as a debut album, it may have allowed the band that released it a means of forming its own identity, and would be a very encouraging one at that. Considering that, it’s safe to say that this record is strong, but will run the risk of detracting some fans, but will in turn attract others to fill the voids. Bloom’s vocal debut with Glow & Behold is solid without ever being magnificent, staying within its means and applying a decoration to a sound that is cleaner and melodically stronger than its predecessor. Yuck have embarked upon a direction with this record that may not have been possible with Blumberg, but if you were to compare it with Yuck, it’s one that isn’t as hard hitting, and is merely a nice, easy listen that never threatens to be spectacular. Glow & Behold has scored an unremarkable 60%.
*FIRST PUBLISHED ON NO RIPCORD*