"Used To Be" by YNESReview
When reviewing the last YNES single (the eviscerating "Better Job", which also featured Ace Ambrose), among several adjectives I used, one was "exciting" and that pretty much can come into play again to describe the feelings on hearing that this dynamic artist whose enthusiasm & panache seem to have few if any bounds, has come up with another single, "Used To Be" which is released this Friday (14th May): a handful of days after her birthday so it might (in a slightly skewed way naturally) be perceived as a gift.
Crafted at Woodbine Studios with the help of John Rivers (the go-to producer for all the local punk bands of the first 1976-8 wave), what you get is what the combination of an artist with few inhibitions about articulating her feelings working with a producer of international reputation & more than four decades' worth of experience in capturing power, energy & truth beautifully but without compromising it, would lead you to expect.
"Used To Be" builds itself up in a steady (if not relentless) fashion. If last time out the predominant feelings seemed to be anger & a withering sarcasm, on this single, the fury is dialled back as the subject matter doesn't call for it: what we get instead is another facet of this most interesting artist: one which embraces nostalgia, reflection on how her life has changed & empathy. By about the three minute mark you suddenly realise just how far the volume & intensity has risen while you've been listening, yet then in a powerful switch of dynamics, the passion drops down into pathos & wistfulness for the coda: just right. (The striking cover art takes the wistfulness to extremes: it makes her look like a piteous Dickensian orphan)
Apart from the "punk" epithet, YNES also self describes as having Britpop roots & when I heard "Used To Be", my immediate thought was my appreciation of the debut album of Lily Allen: it shares that wit, a sense of enjoying wordplay coupled with an apparent desire to write lyrics in a way which people (especially of YNES' own generation) articulate themselves rather than in the sterile code into which (over)conventional lyric writing too often slips. There is (thankfully) much more of this approach around these days than there was years ago (especially round our way) with so many true voices, not necessarily sharing YNES' or indeed anyone else's particular style.
I can hardly wait to hear whatever she comes up with next (I can't begin to second guess her) and in other excellent news, YNES has dates where we can catch her & her band live in the coming weeks: on Thursday June 3rd at the George Tavern in London, at the Bigfoot Festival at Ragley Hall on Saturday June 19th and at Birmingham's Sunflower Lounge on Saturday June 26th.