When Yak first arose in late 2014, it seemed like they could do no wrong. Their output was ferocious and their live shows were unhinged exhibitions of crafted pandemonium. And whilst many of their contemporaries fizzled into obscurity under their own hype, Yak released their debut 'Alas Salvation' to pretty-much widespread acclaim.
However what followed was frontman Oli Burslem pushing himself to his artistic limit. Moving to Tokyo and wrestling with writing the band's second album, he returned to the UK and lived in his Citroën as they tried to make LP2 come to life.
Now approaching almost three years since the release of 'Alas Salvation', 'Pursuit Of Momentary Happiness' is alive but was it worth the turmoil? Singles 'Bellyache' and 'Fried' feel familiar for anyone acquainted with Yak, yet they're not a copy and paste job. More refined and guttural, with the former blending in elements of psych into its grandiose brass finale, Yak show real intent on flourishing their sound.
'White Male Carnivore' is similar with its infectious fuzzy guitars, whilst 'Pay Off Vs. The Struggle's driving percussion channels 'Flying Microtonal Banana' era of King Gizzard and rears into a pummelling and deranged cacophony of sound.
However this hysteria does not encapsulate 'Pursuit Of Momentary Happiness' as a whole, as some of the record's best moments are when Yak also flirt with more slow-burning ballads. This includes the woozy organ led title track and the Palma Violets-esque 'Words Fail Me', both of which add real resonance to the band's repertoire. As for 'This House Has No Living Room', which features J. Spaceman of Spiritualized, Yak head for the stratosphere and bow out of the LP on a gorgeous tranquil soundscape.
That's not to say there aren't moments where ideas do fall short. The aptly named 'Interlude' teases a gargantuan Primal Scream inspired anthem, with huge horn sections and rousing instrumentation, but just ends up leading into nothing. Then there's 'Blinded By The Lies', which at times just sounds like up a beefed up Beady Eye B-side.
Whilst 'Pursuit Of Momentary Happiness' isn't bursting with the levels of relentless volatility heard on their debut record, it does cement itself as an important release for Yak. With no intent on living off of past glories, Burslem and co. are keen to move forward and it shows. It's by no means a perfect record, but it sure sounds like they're setting themselves up for one.
Words: Liam Egan
- - -
- - -
Join us on Vero, as we get under the skin of global cultural happenings. Follow Clash Magazine as we skip merrily between clubs, concerts, interviews and photo shoots. Get backstage sneak peeks and a true view into our world as the fun and games unfold.