Album: Yard Act – The Overload review

by Dave Bertram

Leeds’ quartet continue the guitar revival with punchy, razor sharp debut that takes aim at post-Brexit Britain

Influences in sound and social commentary are sewn all over their sleeves. The melting pot of Mark E Smith and Gang of Four’s post punk, angular early-noughties vibes, and the wit of Jarvis Cocker and Jason Williamson, create another contender in the genre that dispenses with vocal melodies in the search for lyrical remonstrations and declamations that hit hard.

But what’s makes The Overload vibrant and relevant is frontman James Smith’s focus on societal divisions, and landing shots on the ‘other side’ with real vigour and style. ‘The age of the gentrified savage…the overload of discontent,’ he snipes on the grooving opener and title track; ‘The last bastion of hope this once great nation had left was good music,’ he bemoans next on Dead Horse; We all get a commemorative 50 pence each for the peace treaties breached and the palms greased that are never on the ends of the elbows digging graves for the deceased,’ he points out on the early Blur-esque, Land of the Blind.

And while the political commentary is broad, the context is hyper-localised in social commentary akin to some of his fellow Yorkshiremen – satirising the caricatures we now know too well. The all-knowing ‘The landlord, Fat Andy’ appears in the title track – a misdemeaning man in a suit narrates The Incident, and the average Joe that lives in all of us has his life shown back at us in the seven-minute, Tall Poppies.

Sonically, it’s disjointed, bass-driven, minimalist and yet punchy, with infectious grooves that provide a suitable soap box for Smith to stand-upon, take aim and fire. In summation, its refreshing, and not least because a northern guitar band in their thirties signed a major record deal.

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