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New Music: Yard Act - Where's My Utopia?

The album cover for Where's My Utopia, the new album from Yard Act

Since forming in 2019 Yard Act have achieved an incredible amount of success including a number 2 album for The Overload, their debut release which also received a Mercury Prize nomination. The band have also collaborated with Elton John, played The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon and festival slots worldwide including SXSW and Coachella. When you stop and think about how their lives have changed, the direction that The Overload set them, they have not for one minute let any of this go to their heads. Yard Act always come across as very grounded and appreciative for what they have in life. The most striking thing about this band and song writer James Smith is how he writes about the world that he knows.  The Overload is a social commentary of the time, this album arrived after lockdown and paints an accurate picture of post-Brexit Britain. The Overload was very observational and introduced us to a number of characters, with Where's My Utopia? James has written very much from his own perspective. Where's My Utopia? comes across from the angle of trying to deal with the fame that has come the band's way, balancing the joys of being in a band, seeing the world and what that brings together with the complexities of family life and being apart from loved ones. Becoming a parent and the hopes and fears that parenthood can bring. 

The first song that I would like to try and talk about on this inspiring album is Blackpool Illuminations which comes towards the end of the album but is arguably the album's centrepiece. This song sees James going on a journey through his childhood and how that journey has taken him to the same place but now as a parent, seeing his own son walking in the same footsteps as James once took as a child. This is a song that should be studied in universities. It is raw, honest, emotional and contains moments that all of us will relate to.  Some of those moments include that feeling as a child when you really hurt yourself. James talks about falling in a hotel room and splitting his lips, blood pouring out of his gums. It's the way he recounts the pain in these lyrics that took me back to a time in my childhood where I went over the handlebars of my bike and scraped my chin along the pavement. There is nothing like that pain of falling in childhood and how it stays with you forever.  The lyrics about how you feel towards your parents as a child are so true and beautiful "I think at that age / You feel most in love with your parents / I think they're your best friends / And they're your whole world / And they keep you safe and you know them better than anyone else / And when they're happy together with you / The fact that you never want life to change" .  Blackpool Illuminations sees James declaring his love for his son, for his family and how these are the greatest achievements in his life, and again is something I certainly relate to. I often say to people that my daughter is my greatest achievement in life, so I am not ashamed to admit that I shed a tear when I heard the lyric "Finally I'd made it / And for the first time I felt truly free / With my beautiful family and my dream job no longer a dream / Still now it baffles me / I attained perfection with you / I attained perfection / So why the fuck was I wondering what wankers would think of album 2"

Those feelings of family life also feature heavily in The Undertow which sees James reflecting on the challenges of being away from his family, life on the road with a young child at home. Being away getting to see all these places, having fun on stage with friends when you are missing out on home life. "What's the guilt worth if you do nothing with it". This is something that many families have to deal with, it can be a challenge for many trying to support the family financially and being away from home. Guilt is an emotion that will resonate with anyone who has ever had to spend time away from their loved ones, but within this song James is reminding us it is ok to do this, it is ok to be away as hard as it may be but make sure you do something with it. Yard Act have always had a strong element of humour running through their music and that humour certainly takes centre stage in We Make Hits "Post Punks latest poster boys / wouldn't have got to ride / On the coattails of the dead". We Make Hits is a tongue in cheek pop at the music industry but you can't help but get the feeling that this is how Yard Act see themselves at times, they want to be a pop band, they want to achieve success and give the world songs that everyone can sing and dance to "We make hits / Two broke Millennial men". Dream Job sees the band trying to come to terms with their relationship with the music industry and the success that has come their way over the last three years, trying to accept that it is a dream job, they are achieving a level of success they previously dreamt about but what do you do when you get this success, how do you sustain it, how do you keep yourself sane, and look after your mental health.

Similar to Blackpool Illuminations, Down By The Stream is another one of those wow moments. It is one of those songs that will have you hanging on every word and feeling deeply every lyric that you hear. This song sees James reflecting on a past life of being a school bully "I was young, but more so I was wrong". James further shows his regret and learning from these moments and approaching this from the perspective of a parent how he would feel if his son acted this way "If I found out my son had been picking on someone / Well, when he came home from school, I'd grab that little fucker by the rucksack / Pin him up to the wall and scream in his face / Until he'd never dare make another person feel shitty at all". As with everything Yard Act do it is the honesty that the listener can truly appreciate in the music. Down By The Stream deals with the cycles of abuse and just because someone did it to you, does not mean it is right to do it to someone else. It is important that we let songs like this provoke us into thinking, to have conversations about actions from our own past where we may have said something to someone that may have had an impact on them, made them feel a certain way and something that has stuck with them throughout their life. James apologises in this song for making someone feel this way. It is important we recognise these feelings, these moments, own them, apologise and make sure we and future generations learn from them. 

Final song to pick out is When the Laughter Stops featuring Katy J Pearson, another self reflective song about success, how long is it going to last, the pressure of trying to replicate success, what are you going to do when it stops "When the laughter stops". What makes this song stand out so much is the way it makes you want to dance and have fun. The chorus is catchy, the bass will have you hooked, the lyrics are quirky and fun this is a song that will be sure to make you smile. 

Yard Act have once again proved why they are one of the most important bands in the UK,

scrap that, one of the most important bands in the world right now. Where's My Utopia? has taken the band to another level, as songwriters, as musicians and as people in general. I love how with Where's My Utopia? they have recognised that as songwriters it is important to be honest and write about the world that you know. Their first album was of the time, they could not have continued writing about those themes and characters for ever. They have now written about the current chapter in their lives, written about real life experiences, emotions and everything and as fans, as music lovers, that is all we could ever have asked for. What's next for the band, who cares. Enjoy Where's My Utopia?, catch them on tour this year and feel confident in the knowledge that whatever they do next you know Yard Act will not let you down.  

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Their sharp lyrics and distinctive sound continue to push boundaries and provoke thought. This song is a must-listen for anyone craving fresh, innovative music. Yard Act is undoubtedly a band to watch! Choose the best spotify promotion strategy to promote your music career.

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