Yungblud made a name for himself as a hyperactive punk who doesn’t care about genre. First album ‘21st Century Liability’ pulled from indie and ska as the Doncaster-native raged at a world that wasn’t listening to him or his generation. Brilliant second album ‘Weird!’ was a giddy trip through alt-rock, with Yungblud (aka Dom Harrison) celebrating the like-minded community that had forged him. With breakout collabs with Bring Me The Horizon, Halsey and Machine Gun Kelly, Yungblud was seen as either the saviour of rock or an annoying caricature, copying what had come before.
- READ MORE: On the cover – Yungblud: “This album is about reclaiming my name and humanising the caricature”
On social media, he was accused of ‘queer-baiting’, being an ‘industry plant’ and pretending to be working class. Meanwhile, after gigs, Harrison was told countless times how his music had saved lives. His self-titled third album sees him wrestling with that spotlight. Speaking to NME, Harrison said it’s about “reclaiming my name and humanising the caricature”, but rather than fury or cynicism, ‘Yungblud’ is driven by love, sincerity and vulnerability.
It’s a lot more focused than what’s come before; Harrison’s replaced his kid in a candy shop approach to music with a blistering confidence. Perhaps for the first time in his career, he knows exactly what he wants. ‘Yungblud’ is a coming-of-age album but it doesn’t skimp on the excitement either.
‘The Emperor’ is a triumphant explosion of energy that sees Harrison bundle his entire ethos into a joyful three-minutes of carnage. “Not gonna stop someone with no limits,” he sings, before adding “don’t be the same as everyone.” It’s a world away from the brooding emo of opening track ‘The Funeral’, which sees Harrison fearlessly listing all his insecurities in a bid to become “bulletproof”. With the acoustic ‘Die For A Night’, though, he challenges that carefree attitude to his own demise. Clocking in at just 93 seconds, the devastatingly honest, stripped-back track sees Harrison wondering how people would feel if he wasn’t here. “Would anyone mind it / Would everyone like it?” he asks: it’s a gut-punch to the stomach.
There is a lot of bleakness on ‘Yungblud’, with songs about death, depression and toxic masculinity. Sure, tracks such as ‘Die For A Night’ see him wallow in that negativity – but for the most part, all that sorrow just seems to drive Harrison to create positive change. The celebratory ‘Don’t Feel Like Feeling Sad Today’ dismisses all the online criticism as “playground games” and encourages action. “Why are we sitting in silence / Wondering how we can beat all the violence,” starts the thundering track. “The politician ain’t gonna help you,” he sings later.
Elsewhere the funky electro stomp of ‘Sex Not Violence’ touches on trans rights while the glitching beats of ‘I Cry 2’ take influence from Radiohead and The 1975. Lyrically, Harrison offers comfort before poking fun at those queer-baiting rumours: “Everybody online keeps saying I’m not really gay / I’ll start dating men when they go to therapy.”
As you might expect from a self-titled record, there’s a lot of personal stuff on ‘Yungblud’ as well: ‘Tissues’ is a straight up love song. Built around the iconic guitar line from The Cure’s ‘Close To Me’ , it’s a swaying gothic banger that unashamedly wears its heart on its sleeve. In a similar vein, ‘Don’t Go’ is a rumbling percussive track that finds hope on the edge of a breakup, while ‘Sweet Heroine’ is a sparse electro track that lets the poetry of Harrison’s lyrics take the spotlight. Talking about trauma, love and fear, he’s come a long way from his 2019 track ‘Parents’, on which he sang: “I went out to the garden and I fucked my best friend”.
Then there’s the Willow-featuring ‘Memories’, which sees the pair trading in pop-punk revival for gritty alt-rock. Both artists have done their fair share of collaborations in recent years but, full of ambition and wrestling with escapism, this track sees both artists come into their own.
It all leads to ‘Boy In The Black Dress’, a cinematic, goth-infused anthem of self-acceptance, self-discovery and ferocious self-belief. Polished but still with that scrappy edge, it’s perhaps the closest Harrison has come to writing the ultimate Yungblud song. “They hate what he is and they hate what he’s not,” he sings, coming to terms with his divisive position at the forefront of a new generation of guitar heroes. Tying the hate he receives now to the violence he faced as a kid for being different, it explains why Harrison is so determined to keep speaking up for those who resonate with his angsty outsider anthems.
It would have been easy for Yungblud to pull back from the spotlight after getting a battering online. Instead, he’s come back with his most confident, cohesive album, which sees him fighting hate with understanding and love. It’s a battle he knows he can win.
Release date: September 2