Label: Zen F.C. / Island
Released: 21st January 2022
Yard Act have somehow managed to find themselves in the mythical category of “a guitar band that might actually be able to get big enough to make some money”. On the BBC Sound of 2022 longlist, the FIFA soundtrack and even music’s highest accolade: Dork’s very own Hype List – there are a lot of expectations riding on their debut album.
In part, ‘The Overload’ is exactly what you’d expect from Yard Act. Musically it weaves between post-punk guitars and Streets-style electronic touches, providing the backdrop for frontman James Smith’s acerbic stream-of-consciousness look at the state of modern Britain. It’s punctuated throughout with witty observations and surreal imagery (his thoughts on growing lettuces in badly maintained roads on ‘Payday’ is a particular highlight) which elevate what could be a simple polemic into something far more enjoyable.
So far, so Yard Act, but eleven variations on their breakout single ‘Fixer Upper’ would hardly be a worthwhile album. Luckily the band aren’t afraid to push at the edges of their comfort zone. ‘Rich’ is more akin to a John Cooper Clarke poem than a guitar band banger, while ‘Tall Poppies’ is a strangely compelling and sympathetic six-minute portrait of a man who lives as the biggest fish in the small pond of his local village.
When Yard Act first made themselves known, people could easily have slotted them in alongside the slew of post-punk bands making snarky comments about small-town life and shouting slogans about the rise of the right-wing in Britain. With ‘The Overload’, they’ve successfully proven that they’re not in the business of hitting ineffectually at caricatures. Instead, they offer funhouse mirror images of believable and multidimensional characters who rub shoulders gleefully with lyrics about ‘The National Front’s new hairdo’. We hope the rest of 2022’s musical output is as good as this album.