Leeds Music Scene

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Reviewed on 1st December 2002.



By Y?

What we have here are two good voices and one mission to go spaced out and relaxed. Superficially it has Boards of Canada for the underlay and lite nu R&B as the deep pile upholstery. The combinations are lightly narcotic but never fatal.

"Take it from me / it ain't my style / screwing your head around" are lines from "Screwhead" at track 2. But it's also the raison d'etre of this kind of music. Nothing here is going to surprise, shock or delight. It's competent groove making with no urgent or original need to do more than occupy some quieter place in a manic world.

That's no dishonourable project. In this case it's tackled with regular chilled ingredients and familiar sounds from equipment pre-sets and beats. On the strength of this collection the Y? trio are musically secure but unadventurous - letting the strength of the two voices (one light and sweet female, one richer and bluesier male) alternate a song a piece through the set. It has a sound of home studio about it - without the kinds of dynamic range or textural variation that a live show would force them to inject. Bass and string noises are sometimes uncomfortably like poor imitations of real instruments. The songs come and go without much sense of drama or engagement (even when tackling a potentially dramatic song like "Transvestite"). They seem to be singing "Hey listen to my voice, pretty good, huh?" while in fact the lines are more often anodyne soap and stroke vacuities like: "I've decided I'm not going to take any more and I've decided that I want you to go". It's Human League material that doesn't match the telling detail ("working as a waitress in a cocktail bar") or go out on to the melodic edge where stronger emotions can be evoked. Hooks and chorus lines with no particular ring about them get repeated to the point of tedium. "countin' it out today ..." X 4 is not what you'd call compelling.

I don't want to sound dismissive or patronising about this - these are talented people making a respectable and consistent sound; and they know a lot more than I do about what they're doing. But as a representative of the "interested but not easily impressed" public I have to report that my first encounter with Y? leaves me wondering along similar lines. Why? And maybe Who For?



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