The rise and rise of Yard Act have seen them leap from a David Thewlis music video to an Elton John collaboration in just a few short months. 100% Endurance has been a catalyst that grows and grows with some surprising results. No less surprising is the collaboration between John and Yard Act, although the former is no stranger to weird and wonderful collaborations. Queens of the Stone Age delighted the six-time Grammy winner on their track Fairweather Friends. Yard Act employ John in a similar fashion, with backing vocals and piano quite the forte for the legendary singer, who lends James Smith and company a hand with a resoundingly unique interpretation of a track barely a year on from its release.
Slower the tempo, mightier the lyrics. Yard Act enlist Elton on piano and follow suit with some slower moods and effective laments that are miles apart from the meaning of the original version. Smith’s lyrics are given more presence, layered on top of some quieter drum beats and bass riffs. That does not, naturally, mean they are any less Yard Act. Shaking guitar strums from Sam Shipstone pull the track together and provide an excellent bridge for Elton to lay down some crucial piano keys. John is the key to unlocking this lowdown version, naturally, but it is the restraint Yard Act has in his utilisation on the track that makes this an excellent piece.
It would have been easy to mark Elton as the lead on the track, but the best collaborations are managed in small doses. “I’ve had more hits than I’ve had hot dinners,” John quips. That is, more or less, the biggest change in the track because it gives James something new, something exciting to talk of. He questions whether hits and stats are “how we define life’s winners,” in another nugget of wisdom from the Leeds-based band. String effects for the big blowout coda give 100% Endurance a David Arnold escapism feel, a James Bond theme tune in the making, striking the orchestral nature with that cutting guitar lingering under the surface. It’s a beautiful pairing, as is John and James’ vocal collaboration.
The Rocketman’s added touch to 100% Endurance is stunning and it is a credit to Yard Act that a change in pace and instrumental can have such a massive effect on the feeling of a track. 100% Endurance turns from post-hangover fear to delightfully reminiscent chastising of hits and measured metrics with some charming flourishes. Slight lyrical changes open a new door to what Yard Act perceive of the world around them. It’s a credit to their lyrical talents that such a small change can be as wildly impactful and crucially different than the original version of 100% Endurance. As wild and strange a collaboration as Lou Reed and Metallica (thankfully more successful for John and James), as workable and exciting as Jarvis Cocker and Discodeine, 100% Endurance gets a new lease of life despite being nowhere close to its last legs of playlist decay.