Yard Act Petroleum

Where’s My Utopia? review | Yard Act chase euphoria at every turn

Yard Act leave post-punk behind, chasing dancefloor euphoria in 'Where's My Utopia?', mixing Britpop with funk and self-aware humour in their second album.

From the moment Yard Act released the breakout single ‘Fixer Upper’, they’ve been moving away from the world of aggy, political post-punk. Debut album The Overload featured jagged tirades against capitalism alongside sprawling existentialism and “hippie bullshit”, but it’s their second album, Where’s My Utopia?, that really sees the band step outside of predictable genre boundaries. 

Following on from rave-ready teaser track ‘The Trenchcoat Museum’, Yard Act’s Where’s My Utopia? sees the band chasing euphoria at every turn. It’s a fearless trip to the dancefloor as well. “Why the fuck was I wondering what wankers would think about album two,” reflects vocalist James Smith at the conclusion to the 7-minute trip of ‘Blackpool Illuminations’ that touches on Britpop, funk, tumbling nostalgia and the occasional burst of nightmarish dread.

There’s a whole lot of self-awareness to Where’s My Utopia? with the band facing the pressures of following up an album that topped the UK album charts, earned them a Mercury Prize nod and saw them collaborate with Elton John head-on. The groove-driven, superlative-strewn ‘Dream Job’ was inspired by the lies Smith told himself as he struggled to wrap his head around sudden success, while the brooding ‘Petroleum’ deals with the expectations of being honest but still giving fans what they want. 

Yard Act Where's My Utopia

It could quite easily tumble into the realms of complain-fuelled self-indulgence, but humour is peppered throughout. Despite the acclaim and the many, many sold-out gigs, Yard Act still refuse to take themselves too seriously. Take the hammering ‘We Make Hits’, which sees the champion their love of a chanty chorus through a glittering reworking of their own history and a grinning takedown of post-punk as a whole. It’s a mission statement undercut with a smirk.  “If it’s not a hit, we were being ironic,” adds Smith at the end. For all their talk of difficult second albums, there’s not a moment of Where’s My Utopia? that isn’t driven by freedom.

Elsewhere, the gorgeous, upbeat ‘When The Laughter Stops’ features a star turn from Katy J Pearson, while a fiery The Undertow sees the band borrowing from the swaggering menace of Pulp

The dance influences that dominate Where’s My Utopia? are backed up by the search for community and escapism that weave their way through the record. There are songs about trusting your guy, finding meaning in those around you, ambition and self-worth. More than anything, though, Yard Act’s Where’s My Utopia? is an album about bringing people together for a moment of collective joy. It’s a hit. 

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