They’re signed to Dull Tools, the Brooklyn label run by Andrew Savage of Parquet Courts, so expectations for the debut from Omaha, Nebraska’s Yuppies were definitely high. Without a doubt, there were few releases more widely appreciated last year– to anyone with ears, at least– than Parquet Courts’ Light Up Gold. So while the painfully obvious Parquet Courts comparisons might be a bit lazy, it’s fitting that Yuppies’ self-titled LP follows closely along this path of savvy, noisy, sonic excellence.
“Grab your things/Collect your thoughts/We’re going for a ride/Alright alright,” begins Yuppies’ track two, “A Ride,” linking the album’s themes to its minimal, yet vaguely adventuresome cover art. What listener wouldn’t hear Jonathan Richman’s voice buzzing nostalgically from the back of her head? “Roadrunner roadrunner/Going faster miles an hour/Gonna drive past the Stop n’ Shop/With the radio on.” Far removed from New England, though, instead of “suburban trees, suburban speed,” Yuppies are more thoughtful, drifting tumbleweeds.
The desolate, poetic loneliness of the American midwest echoes loudly throughout these tracks, as does much existential musing on its ideals, values, and (potentially) false promises. After a soft, moody, somewhat kitschy introduction, “Across the Prairies” explodes into a screechy, grinding mess. “Produce/Consume/Waste/Renew/Adapt” is the clever mantra of “What’s That?,” an exasperated denouncement of the countless “lives of excess” with “no purpose or ambition.” But do Yuppies come across as holier-than-thou? Not quite. From their tongue-in-cheek moniker to their displays of deadpan fury, it’s clear that Yuppies know we’re all equally to blame.
Yuppies have been playing together since 2007, so they’ve had ample time to hone their craft. “Easy Nights” snarls and shreds devilishly through your earbuds, climaxing with a slick, syncopated bounce that’s sure to make live crowds quiver. “Right Now” teases with a cheeky riff, and “I Don’t Know” delivers narration that you’d swear was coming from a grand, creaky Victrola on a hot, sepia-toned afternoon. Nothing ever feels forced, pretentious, or preachy on Yuppies. Sounds drift effortlessly from track-to-track, though they can be as diverse as eerie and haunting (“Worms,” closer “Across the Horizon”) to greasy, sludgy punk fun (“Hitchin a Ride”).
As singer Jack Begley sheepishly claims, Yuppies have “got no obligation to keep this boat from sinking.” While that’s probably true, there’s no evidence to suggest that their debut won’t be getting the job done anyway. Yuppies is a sharp, startling journey through the heartland; a dark, captivating tale woven from the seedy underbelly of the American dream.