19 Apr 2015
Yak / Smile/21st Century Schizoid Man (song review)
Following the release of their debut single, Hungry Heart, which absolutely swept me off it's feet with it's visceral intensity, the London trio Yak have announced plans for their debut EP, Plastic People. It's a three song EP that'll come out next month, but to immediately gratify their following of psych-heads, they've released a new song, Smile.
Three and a half minutes of gothic rock, ripped straight from the mind of 1980's Nick Cave, Smile showcases the cockney croon of frontman Oli Burslem - his Nick Cavesque snarl, and refined voice dominates the first half of the song, his dark lyrics create a real dark atmosphere, and the band's woozy psychedelic tones of the band just build to it's smoky Whiskey Bar feel.
But what makes Smile a great track - greater than their previous goth-crooner effort Something On Your Mind - is the swirling intensity which builds up and up and up, before the repeated motif of 'look out and run for cover' powers the song into a furious climax. Uncontrollable, explosive, and mind-blowing, the close of the track is the perfect example of a song that builds and builds incessantly, great much in the same way that makes Patti Smith's Gloria or Parquet Courts' Stoned And Starving fantastic.
And of course though, it's not the only song that the power trio have put up this past couple of weeks - this week they also uploaded their cover of 21st Century Schizoid Man, which as someone who has seen the band live, was almost inevitable to me. However, it's also meddled into a medley, which sees the first half of the song a bit of a cover of The Gift, from the Velvets' White Light/White Heat, with uncharacteristically low-mix vocals and a whole lotta noise. But then, the noisey Gift makes way for the face melting riff of King Crimson's classic - 21st Century Schizoid Man has the kind of riff that hits you in the face like a brick wall, and at the helm of Oli Burslem and co, it hits harder, with a bigger wall.
Clocking in at over 8 minutes, it's out on a tour-only tape that you can buy at their forthcoming tour of the UK. Like Smile, their 21st Century Schizoid Man shows yet another side to the band, who are already proving they're immensely versatile. It's a noise-rock jam with some hard riffing, that compliments the rest of their discography - Yak have already put a lot of psych-punk, tidy fuzzy indie, and with Smile, some fantastic Cavey crooning. These two new songs, Smile especially, Yak have just made them and the prospects of their Plastic People EP a whole lot more exciting.
Hear SMILE and 21st CENTURY SCHIZOID MAN on their soundcloud - HERE
(WRITTEN BY CALUM CASHIN)