It feels like a rare occurrence to witness a band rebuild themselves following the departure of an incredibly key member, and still manage to thrive. In the case of English grunge-rockers Yuck, guitarist Max Bloom stepped up to fill the shoes of lead singer/songwriter Daniel Blumberg after he left Bloom, bassist Mariko Doi, guitarist Edward Hayes and drummer Jonathan Rogoff to pursue his own personal musical endeavours in 2013. Bloom was faced with a newfound level of responsibility of carrying on the sound that Yuck had come to be known for – a 1990’s-early 2000’s indie rock/postpunk kind of feel, taking obvious influence from bands such as Built to Spill and Dinosaur Jr. Stranger Things is Yuck’s second full length release featuring Bloom as the frontman, and while it still boasts the somber yet catchy vocal hooks and fuzz drenched guitar riffs that the band have become known for best, it lacks enough memorable tracks needed in order to keep the listener’s attention captured.
The record starts off strong with “Hold Me Closer” and “Cannonball” consisting of heavy distortion and memorable, angst ridden verses like “I wanna be the only best friend that you have.” Each song encapsulates a very comfortable and relaxed vibe, which seems fitting as the album was recorded and self produced within the confines of Bloom’s family home in London. The lack of pressure and stress that Yuck felt during the making of this record translates naturally into each note, making for an easy listen. “As I Walk Away” features Doi on lead vocals, offering up a more ethereal and dreamy take on the group’s raw sound while ”Like A Moth” serves as a perfectly sweet and simple ballad. It is clear that Yuck have tried to dabble in new styles throughout the duration of Stranger Things’ eleven tracks, in an effort to fill the void left behind by Blumberg, but this comes off feeling more forced than anything at times. Songs like “Hearts In Motion” and the title track “Stranger Things” feel redundant and bland, rather than packing their intended punch.
While Stranger Things is not nearly as memorable as prior Yuck releases, it retains enough redeemable qualities to leave long time listeners satisfied – but not enough to attract new ones. The foursome has proven that they still have the chops to write and produce solid indie rock songs, but it will be crucially important for them to hone in on fine tuning their skills in order to stay afloat within their scene.
review by Ava Muir