Human Dance is groovy and incessantly danceable, with an errant twist of dissonance that can stop you in your step. But once repetition kicks in and the pattern clicks into your brain, the pace picks up and it jolts you back into movement. These are the subtle twists that characterizes the latest LP from Portland’s YUVEES and what undoubtedly makes this record so enjoyable.
The band affectionately describes their sound as ‘Mutant Disco’, which aptly captures their off-kilter mix of art punk and new wave. Their rhythm section is superb – with grooves held tightly in the pocket and drums that snap through the mix. Yet the standout elements in their music are the jagged lines of guitars that harmonically weave in and out of assonance. Topped with stylish vocals that could rival Julian Casablancas’ and Alex Turner’s dynamics, along with snarky lyrics that constantly bare their teeth.
Tracks like “Yr Not Invited” and “Ode to the Non-Person” give off a smooth dance-rock vibe with just a little bit of snark to spice things up a notch. These are the cuts that could surely light up the stage during live shows.
Meanwhile, “Musque” is a full-on barrage of idiosyncratic melodies that crash against each other while effortlessly held up by a solid beat. “Mutant Abuse” and “Authors on the Internet” are hellbent on trying to wrangle dissonance together, with riffs that pull at each other by the seams. Still, these are filled with hooks that are solid and can lead to questionable bouts of spastic odd-rhythm dancing.
If that’s not experimental enough there’s the title track – an instrumental that stitches up band recordings into a modern art tapestry. “Back on My Shit” is a masterclass in synchronicity, showcasing the band’s technical chops by juggling together off-tempo guitar lines and squeezing them through the needle with a surgical drum and bass foundation. Something so crucial that could easily have not worked, but they pull it off flawlessly proving once again that they’ve mastered the art of unnerving dance tunes. The album closes with “Ex-It(?)”, an undefinable hybrid between soundtrack and song that displays how bold the band can be at defying conventions.
Human Dance proves that YUVEES has a strong vision and style of their own. It’s a fusion that feels weird on paper but in reality feels like a natural evolution of the genres it adapts. If jagged, disco, new wave punk becomes a hit in the next few years, then we have the epicenter of that right sound here.