For Fans Of
19-year-old Dominic Harrison’s first EP as Yungblud is here, and if it is a sign of things to come then you need to pay attention to this artist right now. I had the very real pleasure of seeing him perform to a small room of eager fans late last year, and I was very impressed by the energy and passion he brought with his catchy indie-pop-tinged Brit rock, but at the same time very keen to find out whether that would translate further into his output of recorded music. Quite often I will see a band or artist perform live and really enjoy their show, but then be disappointed when I go home and check out their tracks online, which a lot of the time is surely down to the sheer energy and pure spirit on offer in a live performance being lost in the studio recordings. Harrison was very much the focus of the Yungblud performance I saw; his manic and off the wall presence filling out the room and capturing everyone’s undivided attention for the duration of the whole set, and so more than anything I was hoping this would be captured on this EP.
And, somewhat reassuringly, it kind of has.
Right from the get-go, we are treated to a furiously playful helping of his brand of hip-hop and ska-influenced rock with opener ‘King Charles‘, a track bursting with anger and intensity, but also a desire not to be taken completely seriously. This is where Yungblud’s music is arguably at its strongest, when he’s walking the line between the various worlds of pop, punk rock and indie rock without declaring an allegiance to either one. This rich vein of form continues through into the next two tracks. the now Triple J staple ‘I Love You, Will You Marry Me’ (which you would’ve heard on the recent Hottest 100) and ‘Tin Pan Boy‘. All three of these tracks have great things going for them, also including a type of brutal honesty that lends itself really well to a kind of endearing relatability that is often very hard to find in mainstream indie rock these days. There is no airy-fairy continual use of metaphors for some undefined message, but real stories and straight-up opinions on specific real-life issues that, while they may not be completely relevant to you purely on their face value, provide an unfiltered and unadulterated look into Harrison not only as an artist but as a person as well.
Unfortunately for me, the last two tracks just didn’t meet the standards set by the first three, but certainly not for lack of trying. ‘Polygraph Eyes‘ seemed to me to be painfully similar to any number of The 1975’s deep cuts, even with a very effective scathing attack on lad culture in the star’s hometown. It’s difficult to say this because I’m sure if the EP consisted of five tracks with the same plan of attack I would also have words to say, but the electronic-tinged ballad didn’t work for me. In fact, I almost felt that he might have known this and tacked on the delay-soaked yell that kicks of ‘King Charles‘ to provide a stronger connection back to the sound he established on those solid first three tracks. Closer ‘Anarchist‘ is another slower ballad, which actually hits the mark a lot better than ‘Polygraph Eyes‘, mainly because of the way it actively engages with the ideas and sounds introduced so well earlier in the EP.
Perhaps if the tracklisting was shuffled around a bit these two tracks wouldn’t stick out as much as they do, but they seem to suck the momentum and energy that was built so well early on and take a sharp left turn before finishing without giving you time to either catch up or end on a fitting curtain closer. Having said this, Harrison’s voice and presence is the through-line that holds it all together, and – as I said on my write up for his debut Australian show – these tracks just wouldn’t be the same with any other personality at the helm. That is credit to the way he has taken these tracks and made them 100% his own; something that is pretty remarkable when you consider this is his first non-single release.
For a guy this young, there is a lot to like about this EP. Even with its pacing flaws, it is a piece of work that shows a lot of promise and will hopefully serve as a major launch pad upwards to bigger and better things for Mr YungBlud. If he can keep penning killer choruses like the doozies on ‘I Love You, Will You Marry Me’ and ‘Tin Pan Boy’, then he is going to be a real force to be reckoned with in the near future.
- King Charles
- I Love You, Wil You Marry Me
- Tin Pan Boy
- Polygraph Eyes
YungBlud’s self-titled EP is out now.