Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Album Review :: YAK - Alas Salvation


Alas Salvation

May 13 2016 (Octopus Electrical)


Words: Linn Branson

YAK are the new rock gods. Not just that frontman Oli Burslem bears more than a passing resemblance to a young Mick Jagger, but he and his two accomplices, Andy Jones and Elliot Rawson, are also as exciting and dangerous a live act as were the Stones in their 60s heyday.

For this, their debut album, recorded with Pulp’s Steve Mackey, YAK have managed to pull off the often near impossible of recreating on record the same excitement generated on stage. Adroitly they capture the noise and vivacity they exude in droves across the 12 tracks here and turn it onto a record of which they can justifiably be proud.

Feisty opener ‘Victorious (National Anthem)’ is where we are first introduced to Burslem's vocal in the roaring delivery and raw, visceral guitars over which he chants “victorious”; it also sets the springboard for the first half of the album and for the song that set YAK's name up as one of importance in emerging new bands.

It's at least 18 months now since we first were brought the psych stripped 'Hungry Heart', and it still sounds as fresh as ever, with the driving guitar thrash, vocal wails and chugging chorus covering a thunderous three minutes that charges its way into your head.

'Use Somebody' also takes a psych swipe, employing looped solos and a fuzz rock demeanor that ends in a crescendo of feedback and squalling sax. Drawing breath on 'Take It', shaping sinuous guitar lines around a mesmeric falsetto. 'Harbour The Feeling', meanwhile, Is a headlong rush into krautrock spread over three-minutes-plus of tight bass in a hard-hitting rock 'n' roll groove.

'Smile', which appeared as the B-side to 'Plastic People', comes back here in revamped form, clad in a scintillating haze of whispered melodies before being whipped up into a whirlwind end. The lengthy closing track 'Please Don’t Wait For Me' is a mellotron-assisted flower power pop number that pulls out quasi-metal riffs before changing once more as Burslem strums autoharp and delivers a delicately simple and heartfelt ballad; though pushing seven minutes in length, it may just be three over many listeners' limit.

'Alas Salvation' is a collection full of unrestrained noise and sonic textures of auditory excitement. “I don't know what kind of monster we’ve created,” Burslem has commented on the album. “The document of what we were trying to achieve is done to the best we can; we’ve got to forget about it and not give a shit about it, but also try and sell ourselves like whores to try and get people to listen to it.” Overall, there seems little doubt of folk not doing that.

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