Following up on the energetic declaration that was 21st Century Liability, Andrew Nolan reviews Yungblud’s follow up record Weird!
It has taken me a surprising amount of time to give much of Yungblud’s material a justified listen, given his place as the pseudo face of a new wave of alt-rock. Recent years have seen something of an alt revival, with artists like himself and Machine Gun Kelly’s new pop-punk centric sound very much at the helm. First making a name for himself with his release 21st Century Liability, he cemented himself as a purveyor of genre-bending. The careful lyricism, backdropped by his blending of elements from hip-hop and rock made him stand out, and even to those who criticise his sound, the intuition and boldness contained in his fresh take on the genre are undeniable. Take this, and his use of the sound to speak out about generational anxieties, and it’s clear to see why people took to him so easily.
This train was followed up with 2020’s Weird!, an easily-digestible sequel for fans of his debut record. The fluidity of his sound becomes apparent quite quickly into one’s first listen, with the first three tracks all occupying a separate space of flavour to each other. 'Teresa' is rather reminiscent of a more emotionally-charged track from a 2000’s pop-punk record, 'cotton candy' follows a more familiar line of modern pop, and 'strawberry lipstick' appeals more to fans of punk that some of his softer releases. In just under 10 minutes of listening, you’ve got three different styles of music grasping for attention.
On the surface, this seems pretty appealing and certainly falls in line with the experimentation he has come to be known for. I wasn’t much of a fan of his before I sat down to listen to both of his records, and doing so with a fresh perspective raised an issue with how the second album follows the first. 21st Century Liability served to introduce the world to what Yungblud is capable of, and it's easy to see why fans have such a love for it. Weird! as a follow-up, however, is less of an evolution of this formula, and more of a plain continuation. When the first record feels like the start of something special, something with great potential, following it up with a safe, more-of-the-same release is quite disappointing. Sure, the album is an interesting listen at first, but honestly, since my first listen I’ve barely revisited it. While certainly a good listen, Weird! somewhat fails to meaningfully capture the prominence of his prior release and falls to the wayside as the less memorable of the two records.
Though, this record does present an interesting image of the potential development of its scene. Love it or hate it, it debuted at #1 in the U.K., racking up around 39,000 chart sales. While I wasn’t as keen on the sound, the numbers show a growing interest in the alt sound Yungblud and others provide. And as someone whose heart still lies deep in Central Bank, the success Weird! is an exciting prospect and an indicator of a possible genre revival. Don’t do that Yungblud, don’t give me hope.