Leeds quartet Yard Act are one of Britain’s fastest rising bands, and their Selector Sessions performance, supported by the British Council Arts, showcases just why these post-punk lads from Leeds are so refreshing.
Opening with Fixer Upper, lead singer James Smith tells the story of an arrogant, bully-ish neighbour reflecting some of the faults in British society and how we view those who are different to us. Despite being in a small room with only a handful of people against a plain backdrop, it is easy to see why Yard Act has become one of the biggest rising stars in the country. Their energy and enthusiasm for both music and the idea to portray something different that hasn't been heard before is infectious. The way James can command the stage despite minimal crowd participation proves his effort as a frontman, keeping energy throughout and never losing pace. The mix of Shoestring and DIY post-punk is a unique combination that makes their sound so distinctive and memorable.
The Overload marks the halfway point in the performance, the song itself features character pub landlord Andy, and lyrics like “Just don't be doing originals, Play the standards, And don't get political” depict issues such as cancel culture and the idea that people are seen as being disinterested in politics or rather don't understand – a point refuted by the song itself and the band’s rise to fame. The performance almost feels stripped back compared to the one on the band's debut album of the same name, this version opens itself up to you like a book rather than being drowned by heavy guitars and drums. James's vocals are much more clear whilst the band still show blinding talent for portraying character and energy on stage, or rather in this case, a small studio-like setting.
The band also performed Dark days, a true immersion into Tory Britain, the idea that despite human advancement, incredibly bleak times don't seem too distant in the future. Smith seems to be enjoying himself, wonderfully comfortable in this small space whilst rather groovy baselines play out behind him, elevating this track to one of specialty, lyricism filled with discomfort while remaining sonically energising to its core.
As James introduced the last song, there is an atmosphere of excitement around the band and this new era of post-punk that we seem to have found ourselves in that can be felt through the screen. Land of the Blind closes the session, where the band take aim at the way England is governed. The track feels like a fitting end to the show, featuring a rousing guitar solo that plays out, it's the perfect last impression to leave.