Grunge is disturbed, but alive
After witnessing Japanese Voyeurs at Sonisphere, we knew the next obvious step would be to give their debut album, 'Yolk', a listen. You could classify Japanese Voyeurs as a female fronted London based rock band, but there is much more to them than just that and I'm not entirely sure that is where to put this album. It is virtually impossible to pigeonhole this band. Throughout the album there is a strong Nirvana influenced grunge, but not from the 'Nevermind' era, as it is more raw and would rather sit nicely next to 'Bleach' in your collection. However, this is a female fronted band so you would not raise too many eyebrows to think we should rather be comparing them to Hole. The thing is that Romily Alice (vocals/guitar) is nothing like Courtney Love. Romily is a petit, sweet looking young Londoner, in the same way that Kurt was innocent looking in his own way. Yes she has a very dark undercurrent and comes across as very pissed off, but you can't imagine her lying in a drunken mess on the floor, legs in the air, exposing her bits like Love.
The album kicks off with guitar driven rock on 'You're so cool' whilst 'Dumb' is filled with teenage angst and autophobia, with Romily's screeching all the way to the core of your nervous system. Other times with songs such as 'Cry Baby', they provide a more radio friendly rock sound, whilst the melancholic 'Smother Me', will just do that.
There isn't really any song that you could say doesn't fit or you would have omitted from the album and as a whole it provides the grunge genre defining soft/loud sound not only at song level, but also at album level with gentler and louder songs alternating throughout the album. The album is wrapped up neatly with 'Blush', with Romily's challenge to '...come over here and make me blush...' Well, to be entirely frank, I'm not sure whether that is actually possible by the sound of things.
Romily wrote most of the songs on her own and also provides the chugging rhythm guitar whilst Thomas Lamb (lead guitar), Richard Waldron (keyboards) and Steven Wilson (drums) complete the line-up.
'Yolk' is an absolutely awesome debut album that could give the grunge monster of the nineties a well-deserved second chance.