Yuck aimed to record their second album last fall, but circumstances made those wishes impossible. For the better part of 2012, the London indie rock band's future was in serious limbo, as former frontman and lead singer Daniel Blumberg kept them waiting months before finally announcing this past April he was leaving the group.
"That was the time that we were supposed to be working on the album, and we really couldn't," drummer Jonny Rogoff tells Rolling Stone. But while the band may have lost time and a key member in Blumberg, singer-guitarist and newly minted frontman Max Bloom says the thought of calling it quits never crossed their minds.
"I don't think stopping was really an option," he says. "I feel like it would have been a huge shame to leave things the way they were and just quit. To quit at this point would have meant throwing a lot of material away."
The easiest way for Yuck to move forward, then, was to start recording. This May, the three remaining members (including bassist Mariko Doi) decamped to Dreamland studios, a renovated church deep in the forests of upstate New York, where they recorded their forthcoming second album. Recording Glow and Behold (due on September 30th on Fat Possum Records) in virtual isolation, Bloom says, was "a life-changing experience" for the band. He does admit feeling Blumberg's absence from the sessions, at least initially: "It was kind of weird to not have him there, I guess, at the beginning . . . not having the person who I'd been writing songs with for a long time."
But he says that he and his two bandmates had an intense bonding experience recording for the first time as a trio. "It's the middle of the forest and there's no civilization around," he says of the freewheeling sessions with producer Chris Coady (Beach House, Smith Westerns). "We were living together, working together and recording every day. You’re on tour as a band together, but you never really get the chance to just stay in one place together and have a whale of a time."
The band, who broke out in 2011 with their Nineties-indie-rock-influenced debut album – an LP and sound many critics compared to Pavement and Dinosaur Jr. – was also recording in a proper studio for the first time. Their debut album, written in Bloom's bedroom at his parent's house and recorded using GarageBand, an 8-track mixer and guitar and bass amps, was technologically limited. Bloom says he wanted to record Glow and Behold in the same bare-bones fashion as its predecessor, but in retrospect he's thrilled at the possibilities a full-fledged studio offered.
"I felt there was stuff as a band we were capable of that you just can't achieve in the bedroom," he says, citing the new album's deeper textures. "I wanted to be in a situation where I could experiment with things that I had no idea about. And I think we were able to do that."
Unlike Yuck's debut, which Bloom says was essentially "a collection of songs" arranged in a semi-cohesive track listing, the songs on their forthcoming work are more sonically cohesive. "This one I wanted to flow from beginning to end," he explains, describing the album as "something you listen to in one piece rather than just throwing songs together. You don't listen to track four, then track eight and then back to track five. You have to listen from the beginning and take it as a whole."
He pauses and smiles before correcting himself: "I'd be happy for people to listen to our music however they want. As long as they listen to it, I'll be really happy."
The album is a guitar-drenched fever dream, of a piece with their chugging debut, but more expansive in scope. "Out of Time" finds Bloom escaping from the guitar fuzz of "grey skies" to the wide-open spaces suggested by a sprightly, pristine guitar lick. On "Memorial Fields" the band ventures into "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds"-style psychedelic territory. Album highlight "Middle Sea" is decidedly more urgent, with Bloom crying "I don't want to wait forever/I want it now!" over a 4/4 beat and a surging riff that could be plucked from a Siamese Dream B-side.
No tour dates are set in stone for Yuck at the moment. The band, currently in daily rehearsals, hope to return to the States by year's end, and they plan to head out on a global tour next year.
"The thing that kept us going was knowing we could make a great album," Bloom says. "Or at least try to."