Yard Act: The Overload (Island/Zen F.C.) - review | Under the Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
Tuesday, February 27th, 2024  

Yard Act

The Overload

Island/Zen F.C.

Jan 21, 2022 Issue #69 - 20th Anniversary Issue Bookmark and Share

Leeds, England outfit Yard Act, who consist of former Post War Glamour Girls frontman James Smith (vocals) and Menace Beach’s Ryan Needham (bass), unleash a savagely brilliant debut album in the form of The Overload. Smith and Needham are joined by Sam Shjipstone (guitar) and Jay Russell (drums) as they shine a light on the fractured nature of society with a mixture of acerbic wit and deadpan ennui.

Beats, loops, and grooves meld with Smith’s biting monologues which, whilst owing a debt to the lineage of punk poets such as John Cooper Clarke, take the medium into an exciting and contemporary new place. Smith’s caustic northern English brogue has drawn lazy comparisons to Mark E. Smith and The Fall, but some of the narratives arguably have more in common with the observational satirical wit of Nigel Blackwell (Half Man Half Biscuit) and even hints of John Shuttleworth (the fictional singer/songwriter created by English comedy actor and musician Graham Fellows).

The title track sets the tone for the album, as Smith skilfully highlights hive mind groupthink and the lack of critical thinking therein. The outstanding “Dead Horse” brilliantly skewers the Rule Britannia Brexit mentality stoked by a government of philistines intent on causing division, as Smith scathingly observes “Are you seriously still trying to kid me that all culture will be just fine?/When all we’ve left is knobheads Morris Dancing to Sham 69?”

Elsewhere, “Tall Poppies” combines pathos and hilarity in equal measure, with absolutely no sense of punching down as Yard Act explore the myopic ambition engendered by the limitations of a generationally ingrained small-town mentality. At its heart, The Overload is a hugely impressive debut bubbling with sardonic wit, wisdom, anger, and compassion. It’s also an album that highlights the hypocrisy of self-righteous “no-compromise” tribalism, which ultimately leads to antagonism, animosity, and division, whilst letting the real political enemies off the hook. (www.yardactors.com)

Author rating: 9/10

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Average reader rating: 7/10


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