Millennial anxiety meets Ray Charles soul...

The highly anticipated second album from Yellow Days is finally here. The soul-indie songwriter from Surrey’s 'A Day In A Yellow Beat' is in George Van den Broek’s own words his version of “ironic dance music full of depressing truths about feeling distant from your friends...”

With tracks like ‘Who’s There’ – a delicious disco-influenced track full of swagger that talks about his feeling of isolation, it is easy to see why. ‘I’m feeling kinda funny baby, I don’t know why, I’m feeling kinda sad, you can see it in my eyes’. The nostalgic vibe is emphasised by the throwback synths and twangy bass that is reminiscent of something that you might have seen on Soul Train back in the day.

70’s songstress Shirley Jones features on this as well as ‘Open Your Eyes’ accompanied by Nick Walters. Other collaborators on this album include Bishop Nehru and Mac DeMarco. ‘The Curse’ with DeMarco is a psychedelic sultry number but potentially more could have been made from this collaboration and indeed of DeMarco’s talents. The lyrics talk of getting yourself out of the doldrums, he proclaims “I been livin' in a state of fear. I been fearin' the world, bout time I lift the curse.”

Van den Broek has received comparisons to DeMarco historically and he was even handpicked by the Canadian to be his support act when he toured the UK last year. Soulfulness still takes centre stage, and there are influences from the likes of Curtis Mayfield, Marvin Gaye to name but a few and of course Van den Broek’s hero Ray Charles. However, there are also flashes of jazz, lo-fi, indie, and of course gospel. ‘Let’s Be Good To Each Other’ encourages us to be, well, good to each other, a lovely message with an unforgettable melody and catchy hook has all the makings of a timeless classic, but on occasion, lyrically this seems a bit rudimentary and cliched “Now people can be so cruel, no they don’t seem to care, no, but they should’”

Van den Broek has also described ‘A Day In A Yellow Beat’ as "upbeat existential millennial crisis music”. There are still elements of the emotional grit that was found on his debut full- length album ‘Is Everything Okay In Your World?’ but with tracks like the funk-fused ‘Be Free’ that emphasises the importance of creative freedom over record sales and with lyrics like “People try their best to supress, but you gotta be free”.

This 23-track album which includes seven (count ‘em!) interludes comes in just shy of a duration of one hour and twenty minutes. Some might argue this is a tad too long, however in the overall tapestry of what he is trying to achieve, it makes sense – just about. The Intro includes excepts from an unnamed musician waxing lyrical about the importance of having a ‘free reign’ accompanied by an easy jazz influenced muzak track and how no one told him ‘what to do’. It certainly feels that this dialogue sets the tone for the entire album. It’s not about selling records or achieving number 1’s, it’s about creative freedom. It also eludes to the importance of having a distinctive sound – something that Van den Broek is certainly striving to achieve.

‘A Day In A Yellow Beat’ is an intriguing follow up to his 2017 debut ‘Is Everything Okay In Your World?’ a strong soulful debut that tackled complex and mature themes ranging from depression to politics. Without a doubt, the millennial angst is still there, but his sound has matured and evolved giving a more sophisticated feel. However on occasion, it’s lacking an element of rawness that was historically present in his previous album. You cannot however deny his star quality, his guitar playing prowess and of course his soulful yet gravelly vocals that are both captivating and comforting in equal measure.

8/10

Words: Emma Harrison

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