1883 Magazine
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Yak: Alas Salvation
Label: Octopus Electrical
Released: 13th May 2016

Short-tempered London rockers Yak capture the confusion, menace and anarchic sentimentalities produced in their famous live performances in their debut full-length album, Alas Salvation; the result is forty minutes of psyche-rock hysteria.

Operating as a three piece, Yak consists of Oliver Burslem, Andy Jones and Elliot Rawson. With two EP’s under their belt, the band have finally given their fans an LP worth the hype.

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Alas Salvation is pervaded by themes of resent, desire and love, projected from the muddled brain of a hopeless, angst-induced romantic. From the noisy and explosive chorus of ’Hungry Heart’ right through to the gentle melodies of the lengthy closing track, ’Please Don’t Wait For Me’, these themes are not abandoned.

The first quarter of the album consists of raging, vicious instrumental flurries alongside strained singing from Burslem. This sonically rough introduction blisters the listener, and is best heard in the positively triumphant and course opening track, ’Victorious (National Anthem)’, though this power falls somewhat short in ’Use Somebody’. Following these first eight minutes, we are given a brief lull in the first ’Interlude’, which features a comatose transition into the central bulk of the album.

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The next twenty-five minutes proceeding in Alas... is a distinct medley of noise and (relative) calm, either breaking into gentler folk-like arrangements or reverting to the chaos of the former quarter. Perhaps the finest of the less course tracks is ’Doo Wah’, a romantically sombre piece with heavy emotional saturation. ’Roll Another’ stands as another strong track in thi s vein, carrying a degree of hurt about it’s lyrical composition. An uncanny young Tom Waits can be heard in Burslem during the ironically titled, resentment-spouting ’Smile’, whilst the paw prints of the Hives can be found all over ’Harbour the Feeling’. Completing this portion of Alas... is the second ’Interlude’, which juxtaposes greatly with the former, featuring forceful instrumentals and almost sinister undertones.

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The album ends on the lengthiest of Alas...’s tracks: ’Please Don’t Wait For Me’, which clocks in at almost eight minutes. Though a slightly strained listen and largely out of kilter with the remainder of the album’s shorter and punchier arrangements, ’Please Don’t...’ remains a melodic closing piece. As a debut, Alas... boasts considerable consistency, and the absence of any particularly memorable or outstanding tracks is greatly preferred over the possibility of prolific marring. At the level of the track, however, Alas... is not without its pitfalls. Rather unfortunately, the title track is a sporadic and messy piece, largely overshadowed by its neighbouring songs. In addition, Yak’s untamed sound, whilst addictive and raw, can be unwontedly similar and repetitive at times.

Highlights: ’Victorious (National Anthem)’ & ’Doo Wah’
Lowpoints : ’Use Somebody’, ’Alas Salvation’
Rating: 6.3

Reveiw by Luke Pillar and Alex Miller

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