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

YUNGBLUD steps away from the boundaries on his self-titled third album


Release date: 02 September 2022
30 August 2022, 13:35 Written by Caitlin Chatterton

Both of YUNGBLUD’s previous records looked outward, telling the stories of his hometown and of his fan base. The third time around, it’s him who’s front and centre - backdropped by a refined, more radio-friendly soundscape.

This isn’t the first self-titled release from YUNGBLUD - the pink sock, silver chain, and smudged eyeliner wearing caricature of Dominic Harrison. His debut EP in 2018 carried the same name, as did the accompanying unplugged and live versions – he isn’t going back to his roots on this record, though. Rather, his third full-length is the furthest leap yet from the twanging guitars and anarchic energy of his earlier efforts. YUNGBLUD, in this iteration, is a pop album. Alt-pop maybe, but pop all the same.

The record’s first single, “The Funeral,” signalled the sonic redirection of this era. The track extends the pop influences that were already prevalent on 2020’s weird!, with an upbeat chorus at odds with the self pitying lyric, and one that, frustratingly, does simply not go hard enough. “Tissues” follows suit, with a bouncy chorus Harrison could have taken from the One Direction vault. “Cruel Kids” makes more interesting production choices, but is somewhat let down by the lyrics. Clunky, ill-fitting writing does feature across the record, as though lines have been transplanted from the pages of Harrison’s diary with little attempt at poetic adjustment. “Everybody online keeps saying I’m not really gay / I’ll date men when they go to therapy,” is a standout example from “I Cry 2” – an awkward amalgamation of genres that adds non-committal voice distortions to an otherwise standard acoustic number. On “Sex Not Violence” there’s another slightly ham-fisted wave to the queer community (“what you got between your legs honey / science is ignorant about you”), but the line’s purpose is similarly unclear.

It does feel harsh to pick holes in a record that’s already so visibly bruised by criticism; where credit’s due, the home stretch is much, much stronger. “Don’t Go” might be the best on the entire lineup, passing for something pop punk adjacent with an earworm chorus and dance-along drumbeat. “Don’t Feel Like Feeling Sad Today” and “The Boy In The Black Dress” are also solid efforts, while “Die For A Night” is a touching reflection on Harrison’s vulnerable side. Alongside “Don’t Go,” the album’s other highlight is “The Emperor”: a song that’s been kicking about the YUNGBLUD universe since he first started playing it live in 2018. Finally surfacing, the track’s vintage is made evident by its sonic resemblance to that first YUNGBLUD EP - it’s just a shame that more of the record couldn’t harness that energy.

At the same time, it doesn’t really matter. After all, YUNGBLUD isn’t really a studio musician. He’s a live act; formal releases are simply the required reading before the real thing. With YUNGBLUD, fans are still going to be able to go to shows, scream out the lyrics, and have a great time. In that sense the album is an unbridled success, but if you first got into YUNGBLUD for the raucous, rough-round-the-edges music that raged against the world around us, then a pop record about Twitter trolls might not be for you.

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