Dark, yet enjoyable, sobering, yet catchy, Yarn is a stunning surprise of a release from the Ohio punk rockers.
Ohio punk rockers McCafferty have had a rather odd existence thus far. Starting off as an acoustic solo project for lead singer and guitarist Nick Hartkop, they’ve broken up and reformed thanks to crowdfunding in the space of a single year, their 2013 debut full-length Beachboy bore a sound that many dismissed as a near carbon copy of The Front Bottoms, featuring a dance-acoustic-punk style. With nine EPs, two splits and an LP to their name, the band have had quite the experience in just seven years. But now they’re back for good. Last year’s Thanks. Sorry. Sure. EP signaled the band’s new likely direction moving forward, and their new second album Yarn is a solidification of this punk rock sound, a la Sum 41 and Blink-182, and boy does it work wonders for them.
If there were ever an opening track to set the tone for what’s to come perfectly, then it’s ‘Loser.’. The band’s sound is bigger and fuller than ever, it’s a huge, crashing wave that blasts the bloody doors open. The title track follows this with more catchy instrumentals, a fantastic hook, and some smart lyricism. In a sharper turn, the monstrous ‘Strain’ is a big ol’ brooder of a track, the darkest of the bunch thus far, McCafferty’s newfound fuller sound at its most memorable and thunderous, highlighted by the song’s emphatic and powerful outro. Yarn sees McCafferty as more of a fully formed and fledged band than before, there’s no longer the impression that there are just some dudes with instruments blurting out what they feel, there’s clearly more of a craft and a honing of the sound here. But yet it retains the visceral emotion and rawer edge that comes with their earlier style, it’s a seamless meeting of the minds.
The bluntness of ‘Mary Z’ subtly masks the darkness of the track as Yarn furthers it walk down a dark path. “There came a point in my life, when I became really sad” sings Hartkop, declaring “And I mean it, I mean it that I will finally change”, perhaps it’s also a statement to the naysayers of the scene? Yeah, we’re sad, and yeah, we’re gonna sing about it, so we might as well just spell it out for you. The bluntness makes way for some harsh realities as the outro becomes a self-imploding exploration, “I am the bullet […] I am the zoloft”. ‘Windmill’ follows on as an escapist fantasy – “I wanna know what it’s like to not be me” – continuing Yarn‘s catchy and dancy nature. But it’s the one-two punch of ‘It’s A’ and ‘Westboro Sadness’ that strike the hardest, their punches are dark, angry and harsh, directly tackling the darkness at the heart of the album.
Yarn is something of a beguiling listen, almost challenging you to continue, but its claws are irresistible. Through its catharsis and its honesty, Yarn is both discomforting and enjoyable, much like their contemporaries, such as Modern Baseball, it hurts to listen but you can’t help but come back to it. There are tough lyrical subjects at hand, dressed up in enjoyable instrumentals with the band sounding the best they ever have; it’s angst perfectly encapsulated, almost early Weezer-like at times. Yarn can be perfectly summed up by one line in closing track ‘Toewgmo’ – “I’ve got anger to talk about/I’ve got problems that I never figured out”. It’s overall a melodic and catchy listen, but the underlying darkness is infatuating, McCafferty truly breakthrough on Yarn, distancing themselves from any preconceived notions or titles, becoming their own powerhouse in the process.
Yarn is available now via Triple Crown Records