Yungblud Solidifies His Mish-Mash Sound On ‘Parents’
Written by Grace-Marie Burton on June 1, 2019
Photo Credit: https://twitter.com/yungblud/status/1022920700447916032
With a new wave of British bands coming out over the past couple of years and hitting the mainstream, quite most of them didn’t have enough personality or musically interesting to keep a hold of my attention after a couple of singles or an album or two. After the first 1975 record, which was killer, they fell into a hole of bland electro-rock with their next two albums. Along with them was female-led acts Pale Waves and Chvrches, who had a similar sound yet were compared to the British indie of the 1980s, which I never could see the comparison and thought their sounds were both equally unmemorable.
It made me lose faith in the British music scene since it’s usually a scene full of rich creative diversity. Then I heard Yungblud’s single “Loner” earlier this year and found something special.
Yungblud is still quite early in his career, only one album and a couple EP’s in, but his sound is already striking, despite still being smoothed out and defined. While far from being the most revolutionary thing I’ve heard, in fact, some of the lyrics can be a bit too try hard and purposely edgy for edginess sake, like a fourteen-year-old discovering vaguely alternative music and being so-called “awakened”. While some of the songs off Youngblood’s debut album have lyrical parallels to my middle school poetry, his new single “Parents” shows the twenty-year-old musician moving into a more concrete version of his sound.
The promotion campaign leading up to Parents release was a unique one in the current culture setting of social media blackouts and streaming only releases. A hotline was set up with flyers spread all across the globe in which fans would call into and have Yungblud himself tell his “story” of the day, which all ended up being scenarios that were played out in the lyrics of the single.
“My daddy put a gun to my head/Said, ‘If you kiss a boy, I’m gonna shoot you dead’/So I tied him up with gaffa tape and I locked him in a shed/Then I went out to the garden and I f*cked my best friend.”
Using this concept is a throwback to the marketing days of yesteryear, such as They Might Be Giants “Dial a Song” campaign and countless other hotlines in the 80s and 90s, where you could talk to your favorite teenage heartthrobs. Using this sort of marketing, especially with fans sharing the phone number all around social media platforms, creates an air of mystery that draws people in. For three days leading up to the release of the single, fans would eagerly await for the new story to issue, hoping for more clues to whatever would be released on the twenty-third.
Once the single was released, however, the campaign seemed to be a bit removed from the song itself. “Parents” has a rap-rock sound, common for Yungblud, but was far from the macabre circus in the background of the phone calls. This caused a disconnect since neither sound associated with one another. Despite this disconnect, “Parents” seems to be one of Yungblud’s most solidified songs yet.
The intro features a muffled sound of the electric guitar mashed up with a slow, propulsive yet moody
beat with a telephone ring at the very end, a nod to the promotion. However, the verses tend to be the weak link of the song, coming off as a tad try hard with a surface level veneer of radicalism when in reality, it’s actually a tad commonplace at this point in the culture.
“My favorite flavored sweets are raspberry amphetamines/I bought a car, Beretta, age 16/I brush my teeth with bleach ’cause I ain’t got time for cavities (..) Put a toaster in my bath, watch my mum and dad laugh/See a thousand volts go through the son they wish they never had/They told me casual affection leads to sexual infection/But it’s hard to get an erection when you’re so used to rejection/Yeah, the teacher f*cked the preacher/But then he had to leave her/Had to wash away the sins of a male cheerleader.”
One of Yungbluds influences is Eminem, and the lyrics to “Parents” are similar to those found in Eminem’s earlier controversial material. But Yungblud’s lyrics sound as if threw together some stories based on that those contentious topics, but Yungblud is a lack on the audible vigor that those early Eminem songs display. Eminem seems like he’s lived through or has had personal experiences with what he’s singing about; Yungblud has a detachment from what he’s rapping about, seeming to have a distance from these stories, as if he was reading them online. The chorus redeems the song, however, since its moremelodic quality and subtle lyrics show more retrospection than the choruses.
Overall, ‘Parents’ shows Yungblud’s development as an artist within his short career, showing better beats and vocal progression than his debut album. However, the verses show some more maturity and grit that will gradually come the further he goes along in his musical career.
May 23rd, 2019 ★★★