Everything Pointless is Correct
The first thing I noticed on EP!C is the guitar tone – the opener “Chekhov’s Gun” starts off with a slow-roll intro that jumps into a crisp, sharp distortion when the main riff kicks in. “Sharp” is a good word for Y!KES’ sound; they’re channeling a lot of the edge that made early Thrice and the first MCR record such a biting sound in the 2000s Warped days (it doesn’t surprise me at all that they list MCR in their influences). Even when they’re mostly riffing straight, old-school hard rock (“Hold on to Your Grudge” evokes the best of blues-glam a la Hanoi Rocks mixed with Arctic Monkeys) Y!KES keep their tone tight. It feels edgy without being over-the-top Xx_3dg3l0rd_xX edgy.
Another trick that Y!KES have worked out is having varied song structure/tempos/feels while keeping a single clear sound. An astonishing number of bands can’t do this – it’s either completely monotone or a variety show. EP!C opens emo, drifts bluesier, “Repeat the Objective” slides out towards Gish, hits a radio-friendly pop-rock note for “Hiding in Plain Sight”, then closes it all up with a power riff on “Spitfire Salutes”, without ever not sounding like Y!KES. The consistency of tone – despite actually being a tiny bit scattered stylistically – says good things about them as a band. I think these tracks are going to translate well live.
That said, like most debuts EP!C isn’t perfect. “Hold on to Your Grudge” has some synth splashes that sound out of place and a bit distracting. They either need to incorporate the synths more fully to their sound or skip them altogether, focusing on their hard rock zone (which they’re good at). And despite really liking their sound, I don’t like the mix on this record. One of the reasons the guitar tone hits so hard is how high up in the mix it is; the vocal track is either on level or just below it, making the lyrical line harder to follow. It’s nitpicky, but because EP!C is overall quite good the small things stand out more than they might otherwise.
At the end of the day, Y!KES aren’t far off from being the “monstrous guitars, heavy drums, gritty vocals, distorted poetry” that they claim in their YouTube bio. There’s an energy, a velocity, to their music that’s going to serve them well as they progress. They remind me a lot of Bullet LaVolta, the Boston hard rock mainstays of the late 80s/early 90s (go look them up. Their album Swandive is one of the best records of its genre from the time) – similar intensity, closer than you’d imagine in sound. BLV got about as close to breaking big as it’s possible to get without actually doing it; Y!KES may actually have a better shot. At the very least, I’m looking forward to what they do next.
Pros: Solid hard rock band. 5 songs, so no filler. Energy to spare. Great tone.
Cons: Small distractions. You might need to tune your EQ.
Bottom Line: An excellent debut. Y!KES have a high ceiling, and EP!C is a good place to start.
Y!ikes are also on tour in England right now:
6th March – Subside, Birmingham (Supporting Sister Shotgun)
13th March – The Shed, Leicester (Supporting Danger Face)
20th March – The Jacaranda, Liverpool (Headline Show)
1st May – Retro Bar, Manchester