Over the past couple of years Yungblud (or, as he’s known to his parents, Dominic Richard Harrison) has emerged as something of a 21st century rockstar. The 22-year-old from Doncaster has racked up millions of streams and social media followers, and his no-bullshit attitude and modern take on pop punk has garnered him an avid army of fans (he calls them The Black Hearts Club).
He’s sometimes written off as an angsty Gen Z-er. “The biggest misunderstanding about me is that I’m just a bratty, gobby, idiot” he told NME earlier this year – labels he thinks are not only used to tarnish him, but his entire generation. These are accusations Harrison set out to dispel on his debut album ‘21st Century Liability’, which was released last July. His first record was a statement against the mocking his generation receives, with Harrison setting out to prove that, as he put it to us, “maybe we’re not just gobby brats”.
He did this through a string of catchy, ska-flecked pop punk tunes that featured searing takedowns of 21st century issues like gun control, mental health and date-rape culture. It was bold and brash, and filled with modern takes on protest song. His latest EP ‘The Underrated Youth’, is more of the same, but this time the work is more finessed, and the results are some of Harrison’s best songs yet.
Musically, ‘The Underrated Youth’ sees Harrison emerge as a total genre chameleon. Opener ‘Braindead’ is a hulking slab of indie-rock that channels Arctic Monkeys’ ‘Brianstorm’ and bolts away at 100-miles-an-hour. The pop-rap of ‘Parents’ could fit comfortably on a Twenty One Pilots record, while his collaboration with Imagine Dragons’ Dan Reynolds, ‘Original Me’, is infused with lashings of the band’s electronic rock. While the songs on ‘The Underrated Youth’ are slick and shiny, with huge stadium-shaking choruses and festival ready sing-a-long moments, it’s lyrically where Harrison shines.
‘Original Me’ is a candid depiction of the times at which mental health leaves you feeling like you’re not good enough. ‘Parents’ is a savage takedown of elder generations’ reluctance to take young people seriously and the title track, a ballad, is an anthem for young people everywhere, expressing the optimism for a future his generation will shape.
Sharply written and filled with bold, unapologetic political statements, Yungblud’s latest ‘The Underrated Youth’ is a bolshy collection of protest songs. Is there hope for the underrated youth? With Yungblud around – you bet.