After bursting onto the scene in 2016, YONAKA immediately became one of the UK’s buzziest bands. Comparisons to Wolf Alice were inevitable with their combination of gritty, explosive indie rock and foreboding storytelling. Not surprisingly, Atlantic Records UK quickly signed the Brighton-based quartet, further fueling expectations that a record was on the way. Finally, YONAKA’s first EP arrived on Friday, and it’s exactly what one would envision from the band. Heavy is an explosive outing.
The EP kicks off with a twist in “Bubblegum”. Akin to the noise pop-rock of latter-day Sleigh Bells, the song combusts multiple times as frontwoman Theresa Jarvis’ taunts her tormentor. She menacingly sings, “I’ll be your sweet tooth in your mouth. Once I’m in I’m not coming out.” YONAKA amp up the intensity and starkness on “Run”, which borders Evanescence’s bleakness and Siouxie Sioux’s roaring darkness. Jarvis’ vocals and lyrics, in particular, tremble with the haunting captivation of the legendary singer.
Although the volume on “All In My Head” is lowered, YONAKA’s ferocity remains. It is a methodical and melodic tune that slowly builds into a soul-penetrating rocker. The grimy guitars and pounding rhythms accentuate Jarvis’ story of passion, obsession, and loneliness. On “Gods & Lovers”, YONAKA deliver a nail-biting, sinister track. The instrumentation is masterfully dramatic, as George Edwards, Alex Crosby, and Robert Mason create a harrowing and spine-tingling soundscape. Jarvis’ voice, meanwhile, is tantalizingly aggressive, and her terrifying storyline would make Kate Bush proud. For that matter, her tale belongs in the movies as she sings about the fine line between reality and fiction in today’s world. Be careful when you make a deal with the devil.
The EP ends with the title track, “Heavy”, which is also the record’s highlight. Everything is toned down in order to create an eerily haunting environment. This is the world through YONAKA’s eyes, where people sacrifice their dignity for a quick fix, fifteen seconds of fame, or anything that lets them get ahead. The song is morbid yet frighteningly accurate and real.
The arrival of Heavy took some time, but the wait was more than worth it. Although the EP is what you would expect, it also is filled with surprises. The permeating darkness and the foreboding storytelling reveal a band that is quickly maturing and not settling for the ordinary. Instead, they’re going to challenge us musically, lyrically, and, most importantly, psychologically, making us re-think the world we live in and our place in it. To think, this is just the first drop in the bucket. What will YONAKA deliver in the future?
YONAKA are Theresa Jarvis (vocals), George Edwards (guitar), Alex Crosby (bass/keys), and Robert Mason (drums). They’re heading out on a massive UK tour beginning October 17th. Dates and information can be found here.
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