So to new stuff by the Y-Key Operators (a band I’ve been following for quite a few years now) and in fact their debut, self-titled album. It’s a bit like asking a mate if the new shirt you just bought suits you, a difficult task to be totally objective! (It’s after all, their baby and for me a long awaited, eagerly anticipated release – so thanks lads for the preview.
The album has been a good few years in the making due to producers and engineers having different schedules and commitments. Produced by Chris Oliver, who is part of ChameleonsVox set-up and completed through his breaks during their tours and mastered by the much in demand, Martin Desai (Mr. Scruff, Badly Drawn Boy) The quartet of Woz Griffiths, (vocals) Malc Burke, (keyboards) James Freeman, (guitars and vocals) Ray Bowles (Bass) and Nathan Potts (Drums) have certainly delivered.
Was it worth the wait ?
Yes for fans of the classic Manc/Indie sound of the early 90’s, slightly updated with added synthlines and technology with an eye firmly on the dancefloor. Songs to move your mind and your body.
It’s very Future Retro with a good variety of styles to keep the listener hooked in through its eleven tracks. As you’d expect from the guys there is no filler, with a lot of trouble being taken to get the track order spot on, leading to a very well paced album.
Let’s take it track by track;
A live favourite and suitable opener. The delayed guitar and multi-layered vocals builds to a recurring theme of doubt and questioning. Catchy chorus and deep synth layers reveal a tight interplay between the band. A good introduction.
Nods to the melodic references to the Stone Roses with Woz and Jimbo duet-ting over a wall of guitars.
Heaping on more psychedelia guitar and slowing the tempo down, very 80’s sounding with Ray’s bass pulling everything together.
This has shades of John Squire’s rock guitar (there’s even a solo that annoyingly gets faded out!), Again interplayed vocals with some light piano hidden in the mix.
Has a live raw feel to it and the first track with an explicit political message. Short and punchy
(Live favourite and set closer) Starts with a heavy synth riff and builds to an Indie Dance fest with a Roses breakdown in the Bridge (there’s even a Woz whistle!)
Features a sample of Charlie Chaplin’s “The Great Dictator” speech as its main focus. A bit of a detour with heaps of atmospheric strings. Tribal drums, it has shades of Public Service Broadcast.
What’s Real Anymore ?
The underlying theme of doubt and the questioning of authority and the political system continues with this short, call-to-arms anthem, led again by Ray’s Bass and again nodding to a Retro 80’s sound.
Risk It All
My least favourite track, lots going on with a spacey lead synth line sitting a bit uncomfortably with the funk guitar riffs. Not sure about the lyrics too.
This was the track that made me sit up and take notice of this band. Their signature tune that displays all the various qualities that the different band members bring to their dynamic sound.
Nothing To Lose
Brings the album to a close. Powerful, with complex production and plenty of synth to fill out the sound. The sound of a mature band getting lost in their sound.
Verdict – A very enjoyable journey through a variety of Indie styles. The compositions are tight with lots of variety, The vocals (or vocal delivery) is a tad samey in places- maybe too many effects on certain tracks. The band are certainly not the finished article as they continue to hone their song-craft; I hope to see the follow-up not taking so long!!
Released on the 23rd April and available to Pre-order from the 2nd April
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Pre order 2nd April
release 23rd April