An opening statement with aplomb
Cameron Sinclair Harris
10:00 3rd January 2022

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On their debut album The Overload, Yard Act prove themselves as an anomaly within the post-punk scene—humorous without any pretension, abrasive without conforming to excessive noise in lieu of personality, and actually willing to push guitar music forward. 

Album opener and title track ‘The Overload’ almost reads as a mission statement for the band, taking potshots at archaic music industry bigwigs (“play the standards, and don’t get political; I know what that dickhead singer’s like”). You can marvel at the Talking Heads rhythms and Blockheads basslines all you want, but Yard Act are a band for the vocabular; this is an album that paints with words. 

Whilst there’s more to dissect lyrically, the album has a sonically dynamic sound; drum machines collide with ‘70s no wave guitars on ‘Witness’, and ‘Land of the Blind’ opens with a tipsy sounding choir “ba-ba-ba”-ing away. This track in particular fully illustrates the situation illustrated throughout the album; the overpowering nature of formerly idealistic 20-30 year olds being crushed under the weight of the system, eventually having to conform to survive. And yet, Yard Act still find fun in the bleak (“I’m going to make me and this 50 pence piece disappear” before a hilarious silent beat). 

Ultimately, The Overload suffers under its own achievements. Certain tracks tend to sideline the lyrical focus and err towards a generic post-punk aesthetic, as the 6Music C-list auditionees ‘Payday’ and ‘The Incident’ prove. But the album’s saving grace comes towards the end. ‘Tall Poppies’ tells the story of a young footballing prodigy eventually being forced to settle down into a quiet life. As well as being the most musically interesting cut, it contains some of Smith’s finest one-liners (“He’d smoke 10 a day and still run faster than that whippet that could lap the race-dog rabbits”). It walks the line between hilarity and depth with expertise, and the piece transforms in the end to one of pathos and empathy. 

Yard Act make their opening statement with aplomb on The Overload. An album as silly as it is eclectic, gleefully cheeky as it is fiercely intelligent. Whilst certain aspects border on repetitive tropes and sounds, the one thing you can’t call this album is forgettable. Whether they either smash to mega-stardom or simply remain the next Half Man Half Biscuit is irrelevant; this album is the greatest lexical party you will have in a long time. 

The Overload arrives 7 January via Island Records.

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