Following a series of gigs around the country, both as headliners and support, London rock trio Yak have released their new single Smile which is later due to appear on the new EP Plastic People. Fronting the band is lead singer Oli Burslem who not only looks like Mick Jagger with his tousled shoulder length hair and pouty facial expressions, but also sounds similar vocally. However, in Smile, this sense of a traditional and shameless ‘rock and roll’ persona is somewhat drawn back at points hearing a new tone before the band revert back to the heavier sound we’re familiar with.
A chiming psychedelic guitar riff slowly echoes before hearing the faint whispering of Burslem as the song begins showing that there’s going to be some dark and ominous elements throughout which can’t help but entice you. Yak then have their hold on you and the song continues with everything from the drums to vocals feeling slightly loose before reaching the chorus where the band take us back to the intensity of songs like Hungry Heart. In a way it almost becomes an interplay between the drums and guitar at this point with aggressive melodies combating the power and pace of the drums. The addition of discordant notes halfway through this also builds the chilling tone as Burslem’s despairing vocals are reintroduced. Singing about how he ‘cant smile’ and being ‘spoiled by the youth’, his dour tone therefore balances perfectly with these lyrics.
The track ends with all members of the band suddenly building up into a frenzy of rage and there’s no fucking about as everything seems to get louder, bigger and more intense with the instruments and vocals crying out over one another. Rawson slams the drum and everything stops with a delicate hissing. It’s hard to comprehend what you’ve just listened to with the song being a odyssey of extreme emotions and you may have to listen several times before reaching an understanding.
Words by William Castile