That’s why the Chesterfield hanging out of the corner of James Dean’s mouth is better than the Benson being desperately tugged on by the 14 yr old on the corner of your street. It’s why more guitarists want to be Hendrix than Angus Young. It’s why every indie rocker in the late 80s wanted to be J Mascis.
And with that Dinosaur Jr reference we’ll move clumsily and rather obviously onto Yuck, a band who seemingly can’t be described by writers outside of the context of their apparent influences. Which is a pity since Yuck’s crime isn’t sounding derivative, it ‘s sounding authentic.
There’s plenty of bands that sound like they spent too many nights arguing over which is the best Sonic Youth album but few that have managed to amount to anything more than an NME cover. Late 80s American indie-rock is a tough genre to incorporate into your sound and retain an identity. Bands seem to master the sound and forget to write any memorable tunes. It’s why Biffy Clyro only soared when they realised that their heroes Nirvana were great because they wanted to write pop songs and the distortion pedals were the means, not the end. It’s also why The Vines are just a footnote.
The thirty-somethings in the audience tonight no doubt appreciated the familiarity of some of Yuck’s melodies, but the reason their debut album will be featuring in everyone’s lists at the end of the year isn’t just some exploitation of the plaid pound but their knack for songwriting that manages to be both catchy and emotive. As great as the bands closest to their sound are/were, few of them had hooks that took up long-term residence in your head ready to burst out when the shower starts. Freak Scene and Teenage Riot are the exceptions that prove the rule.
For a band with just a debut album to their name, their set contains very little filler. Sure, new track Soothe Me seems surplus to their existing singles but the repetitive refrain of The Wall gets a surprisingly calm audience moving. Not that Yuck are begging for approval, that effortlessness belies an appreciation of the power of the instant hook. At their best, such as on Georgia, they manage a combine that hook with a perfect mix of listlessness and heartfelt sincerity. Yuck, however have two settings and they unleash the slow-burners in the encore. The penultimate song features percussion mixed to virtual silence resulting in a psychedelic jam reminiscent of My Bloody Valentine on a boring day. Maybe it was just an enormous intro to Rubber, with which they finished. This is probably the sort of thing we should know.
So here Yuck are, finishing the first chapter of their career- an assured debut, comparisons to all the right bands and a benevolent press talking them up. The second chapter will almost certainly feature the high-profile support slot and the talked about festival appearances. What follows after, the second album, will be the test…