Sunday, July 23, 2023

Yard Act Show Some Ankle At The Trench Coat Museum

Welcome to ‘The Trench Coat Museum’, where the songs are as long as the coats Yard Act have set out to reclaim.

In this week of ‘Barbenheimer’ there seems to be a consensus on the order of play among those going in for the double bill. The play is Nolan to start the day and Gerwig in the afternoon for a smooth landing. Meat followed by pudding — it’s sensible – and to reel in the previous week of cinema, the continued appetite for Mission Impossible films seems to suggest people at the moment don’t really want one without the other. 

Yard Act too have a natural home somewhere along that silly-serious matrix and their debut LP, ‘The Overload’ would wiggle the fingers of one hand while pointing accusatorially with the other. Here, the band shuffle a little more from the grim to the goofy. Or at least the playful — the scratching is probably the only wilfully goofy part. 

Having touched on some of July’s biggest cinematic moments, we can’t overlook how the cowbell shuffle at the top of the track is redolent of one of this summer’s sporting soundtracks — what could that be? The Test Match Special theme of course. Really no bad thing if they’re shooting for a foot tapper. And when James Smith, rather than Geoffrey Boycott, starts wanging on about Trench Coats in that semi-surreal and erudite slur, you get the sense that in some way this is a send up of themselves and the over-egged (in both directions) reaction to their arrival on the straining post-punk circuit. Or at least it doesn’t seem like he was talking about capitalism this time, for better or worse. No, after all the praise and the decent slug of criticism delivered to Yard Act after their emergence, this feels more about that rich, salted, slippery knob of acclaim that comes readily to political British post punk bands with snarky speaky singing, and can easily slip off the knife and sour before they have the chance to butter their crumpets with it. Or maybe the song is about long coats, who knows.

Either way, their response to the buffeting allegations of unoriginality seems to be to take it in their swaggering stride and have some fun with it — again, sensible. They’ve cut loose texturally to an extent, leaning into some of their latent hip-hop influences, and brazenly embracing that sweaty, flint-eyed LCD-like groove.

In their famously not inimitable and lightly aloof manner the track teases out some toasty synthesisers and disco-adjacent percussion. They like their new toys and this newfound springy bound so much in fact that they allow themselves the luxury of a four minute instrumental outro. The sort that makes you want to put your tongue between your teeth and grimace. It goes pretty hard to be fair. 

Rory Calland
Image: 'The Trench Coat Museum’ Official Single Cover

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