Label: Sony Music
Release Date: 18th September 2020
"Whilst his earlier tracks have been resoundingly declared the perfect nighttime soundtrack, his latest feels primed for the sunnier days."
Opening your album with an interview with Ray Charles, the legend of soul, is certainly one way to set the tone. In fact, it’s an invite to strap yourself in and prepare yourself for over an hour of some of the best soulful grooves in the game right now. Yellow Days is back.
Three years on from Is Everything Okay In Your World?, his second full-length album feels distinctly more ambitious than its predecessors. Dipping into a variety of different sub-genres of funk and soul, the album sees the artist, real name George van der Broek, pushing his sound to new limits.
His previous releases have been loved for their raw emotion and atmospheric beats. Those features remain some of his strongest on A Day in a Yellow Beat. Whilst his earlier tracks have been resoundingly declared the perfect nighttime soundtrack, his latest feels primed for the sunnier days. Perhaps it’s the influence of the LA sun the album was recorded under, but it has become the musical equivalent of lazing around under the midday heat, an ice lolly melting in your hand.
Of course, his innovative guitar skills reign supreme. But while previously, his lyrics have been distinctly poetic, on A Day in a Yellow Beat they feel as though they have transcended into something slightly more cringe. His usual romantic odes are subtle and metaphorical, but the cliché feels more notable here. As a whole, the album is lyrically incredibly optimistic, which is nice, but it does become repetitive – ‘Let’s be Good to Each Other’ perhaps pushes this too far. For easy listening though, it’s perfect.
The album is laced with not one, not two, but seven interludes. Each of them varies quite significantly, and it might seem excessive but in actuality, it prevents the album from becoming too much of one run-on guitar line. Although the promise of a Mac Demarco feature initially seemed exciting, ‘The Curse’ doesn’t quite deliver – the feature could’ve definitely been utilised more successfully to separate it more from the rest of the album. Nevertheless, Mac’s presence as well as Shirley Jones’ exemplifies just how much further Yellow Days pushes his sound on this album – it’s on a scale which a few years ago would likely have been unimaginable for the twenty-one-year-old.
The standout track, by far, is ‘!’ with Bishop Nehru. The artist’s slick rapping breaks up the album somewhat, which combined with Yellow Days’ signature guitar licks is the perfect laidback, chilled track. It soars for its distinctiveness within the album – ultimately, the lack of variety throughout the twenty-three songs is its downfall. Besides the many interludes, there is little to distinguish each track from one another, which previously Yellow Days has done so well. Perhaps to see the true extent of the artist's skill, we need more than just A Day in a Yellow Beat. Maybe a week?
Words by Neive McCarthy.
22nd September 2020.