Now, this is going to be tricky. You see, I bloody love You Already Know. Debut album Stop Whispering was one of my top albums of 2009. I think I've been at every gig they've played in Glasgow since this time last year. The opening track from Petrol Money already made it into my favourite songs of last year. I put it on a mixtape (well, mix CD) and everything. Yeah, it would be fair to say I'm a fan. What's more is that nearly exactly a year ago (Record Store Day 2010, fact fans) I was handed a CD with demo versions of around half this album, so now a year on they've been listened to over and over, giving me plenty of time to fall in love with a lot of the songs here. After all that, can I write a fair review of Petrol Money, or will this just turn into a mildly embarrassing love letter to a band from a fan with a blog?
Can I do both? Petrol Money is, quite simply put, excellent. From the preamble above you could probably guess I'd say that, but I'm not making it up.
The album kicks off with the family friendly Let's Fuck, and instantly makes it's intentions clear. There will be huge, meaty riffs. Drums will pound and cymbals will crash. Things will get loud, make no mistake. Let's Fuck hardly seems like an offer, more like a demand. In case there was any doubt it is followed on the album by Goliath, which is every bit as massive as the name implies. For a moment things almost then get too literal, as The Stride comes along like a big swaggering beast, but that doesn't last long.
Amber Lamps feels like a breather compared to the relentless riffs that precede it. It is still a beast of a song, but one that plays more with melodies, wandering more into post rock territory. There's a return to the thrashier element on The Gush which in both name and song sounds filthy. The Gush probably describes this review too, doesn't it?
Meatshield is probably the pick of the album for me. Clocking in at around twice the length of the rest of the album, Meatshield is less immediate than the full on tracks, and much gentler than you might expect from the name, it is something quite glorious. The extra length allows the song to start off almost stripped back to nothing and slows the pace right down, before building gradually through the most blissful melodies. You know it will explode at some point, and after a few teases it does. It explodes gloriously, retaining those melodies, but allying them a wall of noise and fury that gives me goosebumps. Another change of pace gives a moment to recover, another moment of bliss, as the song builds to a dreamy conclusion. If you only listen to one thing on Petrol Money make it Meatshield. But why would you only listen to one thing?
Into and Over You keeps things a bit more restrained, while It Comes In Waves ends up being almost hypnotic, acting as a bit of gentle foreplay before Business Class rounds out the album by bringing back the noise in riotous style, blending funk, metal, and everything else they can think of until it reaches a furious climax.
Difficult second album? How do you follow a great debut? YAK make it look easy, by simply making an album even better than Stop Whispering. Oh, and once again they do it without a word. By the time you are a song or two in the lack of lyrics is an afterthought. The songs themselves are attention grabbing and engaging, even for someone like me who has spent far too much time learning the words to their favourite songs.
Petrol Money is a loud, shameless instrumental rock album, but crucial YAK know that making this kind of music is no excuse for turning out something stupid. In amongst the bludgeoning riffs there's a perfect understanding of rhythm and melody keeping things balanced and interesting. YAK know exactly what they are doing, and they do it oh so well.
I warned you I liked the album...
Petrol Money is available now, with a launch gig at the Cathouse on April 22nd.