Bill Ryder Jones – Yawn review

Secret Meeting score: 91

by Andrew Lewis

Bill Ryder-Jones is a man I have admired for many years. From the first time I saw The Coral supporting Oasis at Finsbury Park in 2002, right up until this very day, I have rated him as one of music’s unsung heroes.

His new LP, Yawn, starts off exactly how I expected it to. Lo-fi melancholy is something we have been accustomed to from BRJ for a few years now, and this time he hits the nail on the head from the word go.

The opening pair of tracks, There’s Something On Your Mind and Time Will Be The Only Saviour, are absolutely gorgeous.  A word of warning, however- make sure you’re in the right frame of mind before putting this record on because its melodic phrasings will seep right into your head. And your heart.

Ryder-Jones is clearly tackling a few demons- laying his life bare for the sake of this collection of beautiful songs. Not unlike MONEY’s Suicide Songs, it will put a lump in your throat.

Lead single, Mither, has been spinning through my head for weeks. It is a six minute epic that will have you in tears if you’re that way inclined. It is perfect from start to finish and, arguably, is the jewel in Yawn’s crown.

Perhaps uncharacteristically for BRJ, huge, sprawling soundscapes are a main theme throughout this superb record, but my favourite track, however, is quite the opposite. There Are Worse Things I Could Do is as personal as personal can be. It is the bastard child of Shack and The Smashing Pumpkins. Yep, it really is!

Bill’s struggles with anxiety are well documented, and here is a man – a very talented one at that – who’s still clearly suffering. And for his documentation on this record, he must be applauded. It is sincere, heart-felt and pure. No One’s Trying To Kill You says everything you need to know about BRJ’s state whilst writing and recording this collection of ten fantastic songs – ‘I’ve not been feeling myself. In my head, I’ve never looked so close to death’. But music is where he finds solace. As many of us do.

Happy Song is the album’s finale. An ironic title, of course. Another outpouring of emotion. But, as is the case throughout, it’s another thing of sheer beauty.

Like I said earlier, make sure you’re in the right frame of mind before popping this on your turntable – dropping the needle will whack you right in the stomach.

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