Remember when Pepsi and Coke cans still had a classic design? It wasn’t all that long ago. There was a time when folks in the marketing departments of certain brands didn’t spend the greatest chunk of their time trying to make things appear different just for the sake of shaking up the familiarity, as if trying to trick consumers into thinking that something they’ve always enjoyed was now sexier and needed more of their attention, or in coaxing those who never liked the product to suddenly think it was sexier and hotter and therefore more needed or sought after by nearly everyone.
It happened with our breakfast cereal, our soft drinks, our beers, our detergents, everything we purchase and now we’re hit with all of the “new look, same great taste/recipe/formula/secret sauce” things on a continuous basis, with everyone wanting to be edgier in their attempts to be greedier and more savvy with their boundless research and focus groups. Everyone’s looking for new ways to be the same old, but feeling the need to dress it up and fool us into believing that there’s something different happening here, just to satisfy our need for newness by way of our frivolous attentions.
English band Yuck, one in a long and getting longer every day line of new signees to Oxford, Miss.’s Fat Possum Records, is a group that would fall into the category of the classic can, of the throwback in the terms of, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” music. Lead singer Daniel Blumberg, at times, reminds me of the emotional and dramatic songs of the horrible times of young, confused boys that Placebo used to write. He also has traces of Tim Wheeler, from another fellow English band, Ash, another of those mostly inconspicuous bands from the 1990s, but it doesn’t stop there. Yuck is a genius color black of ‘90s indie rock ‘n’ roll, a combination of nearly everything good about the decade, all thrown into the can and shaken together.
It’s everything you can remember or have forgotten from that not-so-far-gone era of music—a decade that, to this point, doesn’t get eulogized all that kindly, but should. It was a bastion of killer aloofness and a DIY ethos that was smarter and better connected than that of the ‘80s and prior. It was the first decade when it had suddenly become much easier to get a record out into people’s hands. Sure, it wasn’t like it is now, where a computer allows you to be a part of the grand party, but there was a bounty of musical output and we were hearing the abundance. Some of it was great, a lot of it was good, while some of it was shite, but all the same, it was there and it was being sifted through.
Yuck, with its panoramic and sprawlingly hazy guitars, dynamic and thoughtful but easy-going arrangements, punky refrains and a general inabiliy to be categorized exemplifies an age when all can be new and all can be old again, when everything is available at the ends of fingertips.