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Yucky Duster rises from grave, kicks ass, lies down in grave again

Album: III

Artist: Yucky Duster

Label: Yucky Duster

Non-Airable Tracks: N/A

Very occasionally, you stumble onto a single or EP that feels like the beginning of the next great indie rock outfit. I felt that way listening to The Regrettes’ first couple singles, and I felt it this year with Wet Leg’s debut single Chaise Lounge. I also felt it in 2016, when Brooklyn-based indie band Yucky Duster released their self-titled album. Yucky Duster and its follow-up EP Duster’s Lament were full of crunchy, accessible, earworm garage tracks that embodied the Millennial combination of contemporary frustration and self-deprecating humor. In short, they were really, really, really good albums. And for a while, it seemed like that would be the last we would hear of the band—they broke up in 2018. But apparently, there is some small measure of good left in the world, because they returned this year to release III, a posthumous and final album. And I am happy to report that it delivers.

Yucky Duster is what you wanted the indie DIY show you attended Friday night to sound like. Their sound celebrates the imperfections that make indie music feel sincere—voice cracks, distortion, a relatable persona—while applying it to music that is professionally crafted and performed. There’s enough of a pop-punk sensibility to make the music fun, but I would categorize it more in the garage rock space, owing to the raw and minimalist sound they maintain throughout the record. Every track is bouncy, playful, and electric, offering the same aesthetic satisfaction as a good slice of street pizza. Yucky Duster wears its Brooklyn origins on its sleeve, demonstrating the youthful, urban self-awareness that the borough has come to be associated with.

The band has described themselves as “brats,” and that is definitely communicated by the vocals, which channel the feeling of schoolyard chants. Singer Madeline Babuka Black’s sharp vocals are accompanied by a male singer who alternately offers lead vocals and backup (or, as is the case with Johnny, overlapping with Black’s vocals). The lyrics never take themselves too seriously, imagining silly narratives like trading your legs for a mermaid tail or controlling a lamp that no one else knows how to turn on. The last few seconds of Mermaid also include some behind-the-scenes dialogue from the recording session, which is another little detail that I love in indie music.

Every song on III offers something a little different. Grump is perhaps the most in-line with their previous album, although I think every song captures that same spirit. Johnny has a dreamy keyboard solo that I rewound a couple times to listen over again. But to me, Very Good Day is the standout track from this record, offering some fancy guitar playing punctuated by satisfyingly thrashy cymbals. The lyrics are wry and sardonic, describing a day gone wrong that we’ve all experienced—the singer hits close to home as she defeatedly asks “who else can I let down today?” It’s a playful little song about depression that comes across as fun instead of pitiful. Depression is a theme that seems to appear throughout the album, with songs referencing days gone wrong, sleeping until noon, and self-sabotage, but it’s a theme that is always tackled with humor.

Yucky Duster’s III is a great followup to an already great discography, which is a shame because this is the last thing the band will ever make. But perhaps that’s fitting. Yucky Duster is great because they sound like a group of friends from your high school jamming out just to have fun, and all DIY bands like that seem to have a tragic premature breakup. I’m just glad they were able to retire on a high note.

Sounds Like:

  1. Be Your Own PET

  2. Tacocat

  3. Retirement Party

  4. Diet Cig

Recommended Tracks:

  1. Johnny

  2. Very Good Day

  3. Grump

  4. Shoes

Reviewer’s Name: John Konrad

Date of Review: 12/8/2021

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