Diving into my first experience with Yard Act, with only the context of two little words under the album describing the “post-punk” style of this British rock band, I was nervous. After some digging, I discovered post-punk tends to differ from punk in the ways of slower instrumentals and often more lyrically valuable verses. After listening to The Overload, I concur.
Yard Act has seemingly sprung out of nowhere, releasing their first single at the height of the pandemic and this past week, their debut album. With a reliance on punchy guitar riffs, led mainly by the bass, James Smith, front man of the Yard Act, discusses societal issues in a post- Brexit era. We dive into the middle class growing lettuce in the street and Smith’s distaste for potholes as he sings “The local council will be getting an earful believe me” on track 3 “Payday”. This is “the age of the gentrified savage” as stated by the title track.
Yard Act also tackles socioeconomic differences in a satirical way on the track simply entitled “Rich”. The song opens with the simple line “Almost by accident, I have become rich”, an extremely jarring, but intriguing opener. The song enters the territory of those who become wealthy, losing sight of their surroundings and becoming detached from everyday tragedies. “Man, two more poor dead kids in a ditch”,
I *expletive* love being rich (You can’t pin that on me)”. This song is definitely not the most lyrically complex on the album, but it utilizes the surprise factor of placing joyous remarks about being rich and brutal occurrences happening out of sight. To finalize, and make a more overarching statement about the abundantly wealthy, the final verse includes the lines “The farmer doesn’t want his cows getting what the other cows have got/ He keeps his livestock stock stuffed in his sock”. When I first heard this line it struck me as a conversation starter on those who have enough money to fix national, if not global, issues, but then decide not to. The hypothetical farmer protects what’s his and keeps his head down. Hidden between lyrics gloating about being so rich and buying things just because you can, there’s introduction to more in-depth commentary which is something I find Yard Act does very well.
Even with so many witty lyrics, this is only the beginning, for the band and the album. Yard Act is not yet two years old and there’s so much more left to say, sometimes by taking a more literary approach. Within an album encompassed by country wide jabs, there’s one that stands out above the rest for me, which is “Tall Poppies”. Racking up almost seven minutes of this 37 minute album, this track tells the story of a high school football star who stayed in his bubble. We have five verses dedicated to his youth, describing his decision to stay in town as a real estate agent and settle down. Although popular amongst the women, having been with all the ones deemed “worth it,” he marries his first kiss. The rest of his life is deduced to one verse and in the next, he’s dead.
Instrumental dies out and Smith begins to elaborate on his reasoning behind telling us this terribly mundane story. He was handsome and a great football player. However there’s always someone better. “So many of us just crabs in a barrel” as Smith says. The final verse of this song is my favorite series of lyrics on this album, even though there is ample competition.
The final track plays on similar concepts. “100% Endurance” acts as the epitome of post-punk representation on this album. Electric piano and punctuating kick drum plays under the realization of the program’s message on the television. Interviews of multiple people from various cultures and religions, none with a clue of our purpose on earth. “It’s all pointless,” sings Smith after the realization. Two verses later we have a revelation! “It’s all so pointless, ah, but it’s not though is it”. Smith encourages everyone to spend time with those they love and live in today, we’re all going to die, but not today.
Between the playful and witty lines coupled with the negative connotations about the societal plane we exist in, I found this album to be very enjoyable. The lyrics felt very similar to those you would find in the post-hardcore scene, as British post-punk was very influential in the creation of that genre. Did I like every song? No, I didn’t, but the few I did enjoy will definitely have a lasting effect and find themselves on my playlists.
Photo Credits from: https://www.theupcoming.co.uk/2022/01/25/yard-act-the-overload-album-review/