YUNGBLUD has always been out of place. A kid from the North of England who literally wore his insecurities on his sleeve, Dom Harrison’s ability to push the barriers has seen him dabble in multiple genres, while never truly succumbing to any.
New album ‘WEIRD!’ is his biggest, boldest, brashest experience yet, a widescreen panorama of lipstick, torn tights, ripped jeans, and thundering riffs, all bound together by a cheeky co-option of 21st century pop tropes for his own ends. Hugely diverse, its stylistic complexities are shot through with a narrative sense that fully establishes YUNGBLUD as a potent lyricist, a voice for a new generation of disenchanted youth, sexually liberally and politically outspoken. Curiously, though, ‘WEIRD!’ at times fails to live up to its title, the thick layer of gloss necessary for his brand of queer-pop subversion robbing him of the sharp edges that made him such a ‘21st Century Liability’.
Opener ‘teresa’ demands you full attention, placing YUNGBLUD in a role fans will find intimately familiar – the protector of outcasts, a modern day Catcher In The Rye. “I’m sorry that they stole your heart,” he sings, while the production swirls around his voice, crashing towards the finale.
Much of the highlights on ‘WEIRD!’ will already be part of fans’ lives. ‘strawberry lipstick’ is a defiant pull towards feminine glamour, rattling the cages of heteronormative behaviour on both sides of the Atlantic. ‘cotton candy’ revels in sexual liberation, while ‘God Save Me, But Don’t Drown Me Out’ finds YUNGBLUD refusing to be pushed to the sidelines. - Closing track ‘the freak show’ is a tantalising call to arms for the dispossessed, while the Marmite attraction of ‘acting like that’ - a full collaboration with Machine Gun Kelly – set social media alight only a few days ago.
Sharp-edged and potent – the record as a whole is done and dusted in 43 minutes - ‘WEIRD!’ smashes down the doors, say its piece, and then exists in a trail of glitter. It’s not subtle, but then that’s precisely YUNGBLUD’s point – simple truths that have been lost, unearthed and painted in neon.
A rallying cry for alt-pop insurgency, at its over-sharing best ‘WEIRD!’ firmly places YUNGBLUD as a dazzling Catherine wheel of Top 40 deviancy.
Words: Robin Murray
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