YUNGBLUD gets weird on his latest album, taking on various different styles throughout the record.
Everyone’s favourite modern punk rocker YUNGBLUD is back with his sophomore album weird! and this rollercoaster of a record is one you certainly don’t want to miss. The Doncaster-born rock star’s first album 21st Century Liability released in 2018 was a blend of hip-hop and rock that allowed Dominic Harrison to let everyone know how angry and frustrated he was with the world. On this new batch of songs Dom takes his inspiration from the stories of his passionate fan base and uses his voice to inject a feeling of unity and love into a generation that has seemingly had enough. Although this record has lost some of the rebellious energy that contributed to Harrison’s appeal as an artist, weird! is still an enjoyable listen and the majority of tracks will find a way into your playlists.
Opening with the haunting ballad ‘teresa’, we are hit straight away with the bold lyrics “As long as I watch over you, you don’t need to run”. This gloomy, dark rock song incorporates sounds from multiple iconic musicians like Queen and My Chemical Romance and is so striking sonically. YUNGBLUD likes to wear his influences on his sleeve and on this song, in particular, that is done tastefully. Although it sounds completely different from anything we have heard from Harrison before, his snarly delivery and passionate vocals on this ballad sound fantastic and as an album opener, it is a 10/10.
‘cotton candy’, which sounds just as sugary sweet as its name, comes next in the tracklist. This light and fun song about sex and sexuality is a huge contrast in sound and vibe to ‘teresa’ but is still getting an important message across. Especially when paired with the bright, raunchy visuals of the music video, ‘cotton candy’ celebrates all kinds of gender expression and sexual liberation which is a message YUNGBLUD is passionate about. This is certainly apparent in his choice of outfits and the fact that he is unafraid to publically wear skirts and makeup. The funky bassline makes this upbeat tune so fun to listen to and makes it a song that you can just throw on no matter what to dance around to and just feel good about yourself.
Out of every song on the album ‘mars’ is definitely the most important track and the one that everyone needs to hear. The song is inspired by the story of a transgender girl that Harrison met at one of his shows. The girl’s parents weren’t accepting of her gender, but she brought her parents to his performance and with the impact and support of the community, her parents started to accept her as their daughter. The lyrics “Yeah, her Mum and Dad, they couldn’t understand Why she couldn’t turn it off, become a better man” are really striking and hit home how the fight that many people have to be accepted for who they are. This emotional acoustic number is easily the best song on the album and will be an anthem not just for the trans community but for anyone who feels misunderstood.
Although most of the songs on the album are interesting enough to listen to, the further you get into the album the more lackluster the songs become. ‘ice cream man’ is sickeningly sweet and is one of YUNGBLUD’s worst songs to date. It is both bouncy and catchy but after repeated listens it becomes increasingly irritating and one of the songs on the album that you automatically go to skip as soon as you hear the twinkling sound of an ice cream van siren play. ‘charity’ is another song that could be axed from the tracklist to make the album sound so much better. Attempting to sound like a cross between the streets and blur Harrison’s delivery comes across as a bit cringey even though the meaning of the song is wholesome and genuine.
The final song on the album is worth waiting for! ‘the freak show’ is a phenomenal track and is reminiscent of the theatrical style present on Panic! At The Disco’s debut album A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out (2005). When talking about the song YUNGBLUD has said: “I wanted a ‘Bohemian Rhapsody.’ There are four key changes, five time changes, and a big, dramatic ending. It’s every YUNGBLUD song squeezed into one”. The song sounds massive and the chorus, in particular, is so dramatic, bold and powerful. As the song comes to a close Dom finishes with the line “Times will change And you might break But I will spend my life believing in you!”. This line is a direct message to his fans and in an interview with NME he has disclosed that the album is for and about his fans and that “these are your [his fans]words that I’ve just put to music”. This track is the perfect way to end the record and will be one of the most exciting YUNGBLUD songs to see performed live.
Weird! is certainly not a perfect body of work and at times can be quite annoying and too sugary sweet, however, the messages behind each song make the album so much more personal. The mesh of different genres turns the record into a rollercoaster of a journey during the 42-minute runtime and can at times be quite unsettling but, when listening to the songs in isolation, Harrison does nail the majority of these different styles. Overall, the songs sound great for the most part and this project is worth giving some time to. It is a lot more mature in sound than 21st Century Liability and is likely to appeal to a wider audience making it a step in the right direction for YUNGBLUD in his musical career.
weird! is available now via Interscope Records. Check out the music video for ‘Cotton Candy’ below.