Yak – Pursuit Of Momentary Happiness

A bold, ambitious but flawed record.
Label: Virgin EMI / Third Man Records
Released: 8th February 2019
Rating: ★★★

Things were getting desperate. So much so that Yak frontman Oli Burslem found himself broke and living out of his car as this second album came to life. That sense of fragility from a band who had always sat at the rowdy end of the indie table then came to find a natural bedfellow with production coming from Spiritualized’s Jason Pierce, no stranger to hard times himself.

Sharing a similar genre scattergun approach with their producer, ‘Pursuit Of Momentary Happiness’ moves on from the garage and punk of their debut, and presents a record with many faces. There are moments of 60s lounge-pop, the title-track and ‘Words Fail Me’ in particular finding Burslem almost horizontal in his delivery. At times they turn into unnecessarily extended Alex Turner impressions, yet songs like ‘Blinded By The Lies’ and ‘White Male Carnivore’ turn that calm approach on its head for the musical equivalent of walking into a bar fight – all garage rock riffs and thundering, pulsing beats.

In these moments, they capture the same anarchic spirit as other recent contenders like The Blinders, yet at times they can sound like so many different bands that it is hard to feel a clear identity. However, the benefit of throwing so much at the wall stylistically, of course, is that some of it cannot help but stick. Moments like the fire and brimstone climax to ‘Layin’ It On The Line’ or the squalling riff-laden ‘Pay Off Vs The Struggle’ tip the scales back in their favour on a bold, ambitious but flawed record.

Jamie MacMillan

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