YOWL – Milksick

An outlandish introduction to a special band…

There is something curiously magnetic about the music of London five piece YOWL. Despite their outlandish – at times even abrasive – sound, they are a captivating prospect, marrying the sleazy underbelly of modern life with the romantic notion of escaping the imposed drudgery of existing in 2023.

Their debut album ‘Milksick’ is born of sticky city streets, and its rotating cast of characters resembles a bar full of angels and reprobates, battling to redeem and corrupt in equal measure. Opener ‘Virile Crocodile Street’ may draw comparisons to Parquet Courts and hold the same funkiness of Talking Heads but things soon take a darker turn. 

The wonky rock of ‘Donkey’s Jawbone’ becomes more unhinged with every passing second – “The reassurances of strangers who know him / Have all the comfort of a set of scissors folding” – until yelping vocals and distorted guitars bring it to its chaotic climax. ‘The Farmers Big Spade’ is another idiosyncratic highlight and lyrics bound with both poetic beauty and surrealist queasiness “Here lies Floyd / Flexing his milksick muscles / My god he looks good / In his well swept room with his spineless lean / Who brought the straps to hold his ankles / Who carried in his air”. Guitars may thrust with an undeniable confidence, but there is an uneasiness just beneath the surface, a devil in need of exorcism. 

Tracks throughout the album are full of crashing dead ends, unexpected u-turns and passages of delicate beauty. But despite sounding like it was hard to script, ‘Milkshake’ is an album that it is easy to lose yourself in.

The band’s biggest surprise comes in the form of the final track ‘A Birthday With David.’ Consisting of no more than a delicately finger picked guitar line and loose vocal it is a crushingly beautiful ode the musician lost too soon. Written shortly after Bermans passing, as the crushing line of “And ultimately it turns out he wasn’t all that great / Yeah, he was out there on the brink of one last birthday cake himself,” it is also a reminder of the weight the world can put on all of us, and often on those who dedicate their lives to the arts more than most. 

Musically inventive, thoroughly entertaining and stuffed with a heartfelt candidness, ‘Milksick’ is an album of oddballs and misfits; a collection of short stories that explores the good, bad, mad and sad aspects of life. Perhaps most importantly of all it is guaranteed to resonate with anyone who has ever felt like an outsider. 


Words: Craig Howieson

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