Samuel Jones’ latest project is an exploration of experimental music to escape life’s eggs-istential evils.
The Southend lad has already amassed an impressive CV. At the ripe old age of 22 he has fronted two highly lauded bands (Velvet Morning and Rocket Ship TV) and is already turning his attention to a third. Mr Yolk’s debut LP ‘Self Portrait’ builds on the Galaxie 500, C86-meets-psych sound of his previous projects, while adding more abrasive, industrial grit.
That being said, ‘Self Portrait’ opens in the smoothest possible way. Propelled by a rhythm which is less walking, more strutting bass, ‘Baker Street’ is a cool track. The drums take a step back to allow a slightly Doors-like keyboard line and a soulful guitar into the mix; both of which will feature later on in the album. Jones’ vocals are the right level of hush and the track blissfully blends into ‘Star Light Head Light’. There is a mesmerizing mixture of acid and guitar tabs in this one, as the lyrics tell a tale of a Canvey Island acid trip gone awry, while the trembling, tremolo guitars play an ‘Are Friends Electric’ guitar riff. In fact, the whole track shakes like jelly; and gives off certain Mild High Club vibe.
We return to familiar ground with ‘My Sweet Honey Sugar Pie’; a fairly straightforward indie rock track, reminiscent Rocket Ship TV. This false sense of security however, is shattered by the next track ‘Green Valentine Blues’. Here the soulful Steve Cropper licks of ‘Baker Street’ mix with a spoken word, Steve Coogan-like, pedantic psych tale.
These guitar licks blend perfectly into the next track where ‘Mr Yolk’ becomes Mr Robot. On ‘Everything is Blue and Orange’, we fall into a Sarlacc Pit of psych, as the guitars become fuzzier, the singing like a Gregorian chant and industrial noises are incorporated. The playful, ‘Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds’ sound of the previous song is transferred into something which is more ‘Across the Universe’; or at least it attempts to be. In reality, the six and half minute track does get a little repetitive with its lumbering bass and background noise, but it’s Sam Jones meets Brian Jones: his most experimental piece yet and shows his versatility as an artist.
‘Hard Drive Revival’ is an unnecessary, but harmless segue between the space race of the previous track, and the racing 60s, freakbeat bass of ‘Bees’. This could well be the best track on the LP and is a spectacular splicing of early Ty Segall with something you would find on ‘Nuggets’. That being said, ‘Don’t Play With My Emotions’ is another contender: a cowbell-propelled country cliché, with soulful licks and that ever so slightly discordant, Fat White Family singing style.
Sadly, the title track is just tittle tattle. ‘Self Portrait’ washes over you with passive indie sounds and an uninspired slide guitar lick (similar to FIDLAR’s ‘Why Generation). Luckily, interest returns with the Glue Trip, neo-psych of ‘Change is Going to Come’; where the voice of ‘Baker Street’ returns to such a careless whisper that it could calm a crying child. Here the album has come full circle, but Mr Yolk adds a final experimental exercise to complete his self-portrait. ‘Rocket Ship’ closes the album perfectly with a slowcore beating bass, rambling post rock guitar lines and soothing vocals which gradually fade out to silence.
Mr Yolk’s debut is by no means perfect, but it is as multi-faceted as it’s eggy namesake. We can see hard-boiled sixties bass lines, melodies poached from post-rock, brain frying psych excursions and raw lo-fi production. Everyone has their favourite type of egg, and everyone will have their favourite part of this album. Therefore, ‘Self-Portrait’ is ultimately a self-portrait; an honest self-depiction by one of music’s most exciting young artists. It shows his strengths and weaknesses, his relationship with the past and his hopes for the future.
‘Self Portrait’ is out November 10th via Southend Records