Yard Act – The Overload Review

Anger in music is a useful tool for those wanting to either make a statement or fight back at something they feel wronged by. Johnny Cash’s outcry over his record label failing to push his tracks to a wider audience left us with the great Chicken in Black, and Yard Act’s disgust at gentrification of a culture gives The Overload that perfect level of anger that charged some of the greatest albums around. It is hard to believe that The Overload is a debut album when singer James Smith sounds like a seasoned, riled-up vocalist with his head in his hands at the state of the world around him. Adapting that to twelve songs gives an overwhelming bit of creativity that overloads The Overload.  

Dead Horse feels a bit on the nose, but songwriting charms are not wasted here and steer the song through well enough. Maybe it is because it follows up The Overload, an early contender for track of the year. A track all about the disassociation between music and politics and how the criticism of the pairing is asinine considering politics has charged music for decades. Payday makes a clearer impression of that, with the chorus pondering the act of taking the money and running, guns to Bosnian kids, all to the beat of impressive guitar work and catchy tune crafting. Spoken word art-punk at its best. This is not a new series of subgenres, but Yard Act has shaken it up on a similar level to the revolutionary work The Clash inspired or the biting anger found on Pulp’s Britpop tracks. It is not better than either of those, but it is close to that quality.  

Make no mistake, Yard Act sounds like neither. They hold within them the same anger, though. It is rare to find anger subjugated in art because of the reservations of commercial viability. The well runs dry and few artists can manage a supremely charged and feverish bit of moving material along with a commercially viable sound that presents them as the next pioneer of a movement or image. Yard Act knock it out of the park with wanton pokes at feverish dreams of political corruption, the insult of working-class caricatures and the bullheadedness of a system gone simple. James Smith’s vocals aren’t just touching but clever too. His support comes from lyrical pairings that rely more on bass guitarist Ryan Needham’s work than anything. Rich is a supreme example of that.  

Yard Act strike up a series of genuine songs, ones that are angry and discontent at the world around them and the people in it. That bile and rage against the powers that be and all the critical systems they deem unfit for requirement are contained well within twelve tracks that go above the bar for what is expected of the independent genre and all the artists within it fighting one another for that same perspective of the anti-establishment disorder. Yard Act bulldoze the competition with intense lyrical charms fused with strong musicianship.  

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