Little more than a year into their existence, British kicks-gazers Yuck released their self-titled 2011 debut and were rightly flung onto the U.K. hype highway. Riding on the roads of many Jesus And Mary Chain-loving combos out there, Yuck took a welcome detour off the fuzzed-out, reverb-saturation street down sunnier byways, recalling early ’90s striped-shirt-sporting, not-exactly-big stars like Teenage Fanclub and Velvet Crush. A bump in the road came when singer/guitarist Daniel Blumberg left last year to focus on solo stuff.
Now down to a trio, guitarist Max Bloom has taken over fulltime vocal duties and brings a similar sweetly languid style, if in a higher register, which fits the band’s move towards slightly slower, more moody music on this sophomore disc. Songs like “Somewhere,” “Memorial Fields” and “Chinese Cymbals” are almost funereal.

Enough of the sticky, fuzzy guitar rush remains (“Middle Sea”), though often only sneaking in and out of songs. Overall, the band continues towards an unfussy clarity to the instrumentation. “Out Of Time” and “How Does It Feel” especially (with its lilting acoustic guitar and piano coloring) are prettily pastoral. Also sneaking around in a really fetching way are some slow, simple horn bits that barely fleck the opening instrumental, and then subtly crop up in every other song, tying the album together in an intriguing fashion. There’s also a calm urbanity to their dialed-down Dinosaur-like melodies that sometimes spill into ’70s la-la candy levels in the most desirable way (“Rebirth”).
The melodies are still dreamy, the shoes properly gazed upon, but Yuck has gotten even less yucky.