Search The Line of Best Fit
Search The Line of Best Fit

Yard Act ascend into dance-punk nirvana on Where’s My Utopia?

"Where's My Utopia?"

Release date: 01 March 2024
Yard Act Wheres My Utopia cover
01 March 2024, 09:00 Written by Noah Barker

There are always two ways up: expansion or subversion.

The latter is when Radiohead discovered the synthesizer or when Michael Gira moved from the harsh noise of New York to the harsher quiet of the backwoods; leave what you contain for the fire of yesterday and let it be consumed by the past, forge for a new path. The former is when AC/DC continuously made the same record for years, each time more refined, in each instance making their predecessors obsolete. Yard Act’s debut, The Overload, was a fine release to salivate the gums of the awkward, hyper political post-punk crowd desperate for some humor among the increasingly self-absorbed acts of indie punk. It is only fitting it be washed away by the tides and replaced with everything it should’ve been.

This is much of the reason why Where’s My Utopia? is such a staggering successor, their wry spoken word and dance-punk arrive expanded from gray-toned enjoyment into a kaleidoscope of melody and colossal, Tim Goldsworthy-quality grooves. Vocalist James Smith’s buttery attention to melody is even more of a foil to his verse ramblings than previously thought possible; no matter the subject or moment, every social catastrophe is a carnival, every day of indecision is another reason to enjoy the night. Each track is an enveloping punk mess of trinkets, synths, scratches, and strings getting bounced into orbit by an Earth-rumbling rhythm section.

The sharp twang of singer-songwriter Katy J. Pearson is utilized to perfection both as a featured artist on single “When the Laughter Stops” and also as subtle backing across the record, a wonderfully played contrast to Smith’s increasingly bellowing presence. I struggle to find flaws in the engineering of this record, a propulsive firing squad of bass and drums, leaving enough room at the top end for delicate, glistening atmospheres during choruses. Each sound is lovingly wound up and left to tick away in the groove, a feat accomplished few times this side of LCD Soundsystem. Most impressive, however, is that this is just a damn fine collection of material.

The tracklist fails to produce duds and lulls in the same way my day to day activities are manifest with them. Singles “Dream Job,” “We Make Hits,” and “Petroleum” harness unwieldy charisma and rousing choruses, witty and spaced out accordingly. “Fizzy Fish” sputters its distorted guitars in a manner fit for This Heat or The Fall, with “Grifter’s Grief” being a rap crossover away from landing on a Gorillaz greatest hits collection. The closing moments of the record are titanic in emotional weight, yet delicate to the ear; penultimate track “Blackpool Illuminations” meanders through an evolving instrumental with an Ikiru-esque ponderance on banality.

Closer “A Vineyard for the North” is the record’s greatest kept gem, however, coasting into dance-punk nirvana on the back of flawless rhythms and irresistible harmonies. It’s a tracklist enjoyable at the macro and the micro, able to be given value through astute attention or loved as one jogs by and takes what they need from it. From a style and source pigeonholed into apathetic ramblings and pretentious wheel-spinning, Yard Act remains wondrously caring. What greater act of care is there than making this for us?

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