When Yungblud debuted ‘The Funeral’ earlier this year, the Doncaster artist offered a glimpse of an eclectic new sound on his third album.
The signature pop-punk spirit was present and correct on that lead track, but its Billy Idol-esque stomp hinted that a flirtation with 80s pop could be on the cards. This has fully materialised on an impressive record that gives a knowing nod to the decade’s leading lights. Among these are The Cure’s Robert Smith, a known idol of Yungblud’s, who is credited for the use of the beat from ‘Close to Me’ on second track ‘Tissues’.
Elsewhere, ‘Sex Not Violence’ sees the singer trading in explosive synth- pop, with a chorus that’s tailor-made for the huge venues this burgeoning cult- hero is now playing. But for all the success of this latest retro trajectory, it is the album’s more subdued moments that stand out.
On ‘I Cry’, he offers a powerful response to critics who question his punk spirit and sexual orientation. “Everybody online keeps saying I’m not really gay / Start dating men when they go to therapy,” he sings against glitchy beats and AutoTune. “And I spend most of my days thinking, ‘What the fuck do they want from me?’”
Similarly, the punk-inspired closer ‘Boy in the Black Dress’ sees the singer holding up a typically unrepentant two fingers to gender norms. It’s a track that perfectly reflects the album’s ethos — Yungblud is still a champion for the disenfranchised, but with a fresh, experimental direction, a new era is calling.