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Yard Act – The Overload: “Standing, hand in hand, watching the world burn”

Listening, amazing, to The Overloadthe debut album of Yard Act, angry young people from Leeds, as funny as they are intelligent, as modern as they are classic, is one of our greatest shocks in a long time: the discovery of a great POLITICAL (and fun and exciting too…)!

Photo: Phoebe Fox

After the last “new wave” of English bands developing an ultra-experimental post-punk that kept us busy for the past two years, it was time to move on! And this something else, this new mini-revolution, it could well be Yard Act, the Leeds combo that made a lot of noise with its impactful singles. And their first album, which dares to be a “concept album” telling a story (they talk about TV series, it’s more modern!), which does not cover the famous singles, is a real bomb: mixing pop melodies, punkoid energy , phrasing hip hop, and developing an accomplished and intelligent socio-political discourse, The Overload turns out to be a work as sharp as it is irresistible.

Yard Act The OverloadIn The OverloadIt’s about a man in his late 20s/early 30s who has always tried to fight the system, stand up for the things he believes in, and has a strong sense of morality. But it’s overwhelming as much as it makes you happy, sacrificing opinions for a comfortable life, and still carrying the burden of decision. ” Explain James Smithsinger of Yard Actwhich began as a duo of quasi-do-it-yourselfers (James and his buddy, Ryan Needham on bass) and is today a “real” (?) rock quartet, with drummer and guitarist. The risk of positioning itself from the outset as a “political” group, denouncing the absurdities and horrors of our world suffocated by the selfishness of the capitalist, and whose sense of community and solidarity has been further damaged by the pandemic, is obviously to pass for lesson givers, moralizing rockers… But Yard Act is not U2he rather continues the brilliant saga, so English, of kinksfrom Specials and of The Streets: the kinksfor their love of true popular England, the Specials for the inscription of realistic political chronicles in a music which impeccably makes dance, and of course the Streets for the appropriation of hip hop techniques and their adaptation to an English “low to middle class”, white but now also ravaged by the misery brought by the successive policies of the Tories…

Have we recently listened to a rock band (or even a hip-hop artist) on this side of the Atlantic saying things as clear, as relevant, as honest, as terrible even as Yard Act ?… Like this terrible conclusion of the longest, most ambitious, least “commercial” piece of the album, tall poppies : “ We cry because children are dying across the sea / And there is nothing we can do about it / Whilst we benefit from the bombs they dropped / Which we had no part in building / We are sorry, truly we are sorry./ We are just trying to get by too (We cry because children die crossing the sea / And we can’t help it / While we benefit from the bombs that have been dropped / We didn’t help build / We’re sorry, really we’re sorry. / We’re just trying to get by, too…)

In Dead Horsetheir diagnosis of the situation in the post-Brexit country is particularly ruthless: “ This crackpot country half full of cunts / Will finally have the last laugh / When dragged underwater / By the weight of the tumor / It formed when it fell for the fear mongering / Of the national fronts new hairdo (This crazy country half full of assholes / Will finally have the last laugh / When it’s dragged under water / By the weight of the tumor / That was formed when it embraced fear / Preached by the Front National and his new haircut…).

It is probably useless to specify that all these pieces, however dissenting they may be, are nourished by the essential English humor, and that well-handled sarcasm as here (and in that, Yard Act echoes the texts of IDLES…) remains the most effective weapon against hatred and against the imbecility which sometimes seems to triumph everywhere. On the other hand, it is necessary to repeat again and again that the majority of the songs of The Overload are above all joyful celebrations – rock, funky, hip hop – of the energy of a youth that, we know, will triumph: how not to jiggle with a big smile from ear to ear, raising your arms and s sprinkling lukewarm beer on the irresistible Payday (“ Take the Money and Run! – Take the sorrel and get away!) and For Another (“ Standing round, hand in hand / Watching the world burn – Standing, hand in hand / Watching the world burn)?

Eric Debarnot

Yard Act – The Overload
Label: Universal Music
Release date: January 21, 2022

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