YNES Single Review: Bedroom-punk belter ‘Better Job’ is a defiant middle finger to Sunak’s stifling of creativity

© YNES, 2021

By Neve Robinson

“I don’t know man, maybe I should get like, a grown-up job, a real job, A BETTER JOB!” Within the first few opening seconds of her new single, the unrelenting, firecracker visionary YNES makes her views clear on Rishi Sunak’s ludicrous suggestion that musicians and other people in the arts sector should “retrain and find other jobs”. And by God, if you weren’t convinced of the ridiculousness of this comment before, you undoubtedly will be after listening to this powerhouse of a protest record. Better Job may well be one of my favourite singles of the year, and we’re only in February.

Why does it pack such a resonant punch and make such an impact on the listener? I should say firstly, that it’s certainly a sentiment shared by countless other creatives who work hard to create content enjoyed and consumed by those criticising them for not having so-called ‘practical’ careers. As a writer, I completely empathise with YNES’ anger. To be denied of the only thing I have personally ever felt I was talented at/had a real motivation to work diligently at for others’ enjoyment, Sunak’s savage condemning of my craft was a kick in the teeth. And what a committed creative YNES is. She has been for many years been working hard at her craft, constantly evolving, spanning every genre from indie-dreamy pop to punk, and gradually garnering up quite the following of her illustrious career. I myself have followed YNES on social media for years now, initially interested by her cool chameleon looks. Even her dress sense oozes individuality and artistry – she looks like a rockstar. She has the voice and the lyrical talent; taking heavy inspiration from artists like Kate Nash, her social commentary is biting and endlessly intelligent. But I think what I most enjoyed about seeing her content, and why I ached to review her new single, was her incredible confidence. She is above all a deeply strong woman, and one I deeply admire; she is one of the most open and honest artists I have ever come across. She is unfazed by negativity, and instead brazenly looks it in the eye and tells it to f**k off. This is why I completely have faith in her lyrics. You can tell how much she cares about the records that she makes, how much passion she has for the words she screams. YNES is no plastic-punk. She’s 100% the real deal, in her ideals and her fierce feminist rhetoric intrinsic to the single.

 © YNES, 2021

Better Job has been a long-anticipated release. After Sunak’s comments, YNES uploaded a 30 second jingle to social media titled Better Jobs. A direct response to Rishi, YNES states quite clearly that “she’d rather die than have a better job” – to be pigeonholed into what the government deem as ‘respectable’ jobs at the detriment of losing her creative spark would be an existence YNES can’t picture herself existing in! The skit gained a lot of traction – a tasty 8k views and an interview on BBC – and it inspired her to write a full song from the foundations of the video. “Having witnessed the subsequent lack of support for the industry regarding Brexit, and just everything else at the moment – I decided to spend Lockdown 3 writing and recording a full track from home,” YNES explained in her correspondence with me. “I know so many people who are feeling dejected and hopeless at the future of the arts, and I really believe that we need to stay passionate – together. I really feel as though the song will resonate with people.” And resonate it has. The song stands up for all of the creative voices that the government encouragement of retraining has stifled. It’s a song that inspires a real sense of unity, a real sense of US VS THEM. It’s a cathartic expression of her own frustration as well as trying to make it clear that our spirits shouldn’t be crushed by the dismissal of our talents. It’s a sentiment I’m behind, I can tell you.

The song also celebrates the beauty of individuality and not succumbing to the cookie-cutter shapes society tries to mold us as workers into, which YNES herself is an emblem of. I think I would describe her as A New Romantic Britpunk Babe, a general glittery delight of a human, or probably just as Annie Lennox’s (possibly) biological daughter. Perhaps an amalgamation of the three. She asks playfully to be taught how to be a “morally upstanding member of society“, which her ethereal alien appearance and non-acceptance of bullsh*t doesn’t quite fit into (dictionary-definition wise, at least). And, nor should it. She offers that maybe she could “wear a tie” – but because she’s a woman, it’ll “have to be a miniskirt“, referencing the misogynistic way women are treated in the workplace as well as a cutting comment on how androgyny is shunned. Gender conformity is a more easy way to be squeezed into the mold of ‘acceptable member of society.’ But that’s just the thing, isn’t it? What is our motivation to play by societal rules, what is our reward? I think I’d much rather be happy in my skin and dye my hair funky colours and be gloriously and unabashedly me than to lose my soul to corporate means. Sparks of light and talent and joy shine through the cracks in this hollow work-obsessed society we inhabit. Sure, most of us “can’t afford to be the next Rolling Stones or Bowie” and have to work jobs on the side. It’s like YNES herself states, “radioplay doesn’t pay these days!” But the difficult trials and tribulations that come with being an artist and keeping the flame lit of our creative endeavours is worth it. And it ironically has entertained and kept sane the very same people that are critical of the industry. So, Rishi, if you want us to retrain, “we’ll all get better jobs – but you can throw away your DVDs, you can unsubscribe from Netflix, and delete your music library” – because without the wonderful artists like YNES of the world, there would be no art to escape into.

YNES’ vivacious vocals and unrelenting guitar riffs make for a DIY dream of a punk record. It is a true testament to the talent of YNES, and I truly wish her nothing but success in her career. I’m excited to see her bloom even more, and I hope to hear records from her similar to this in the future – it’s very unique from anything she’s ever produced, really, and I for one am digging it. Keep being fabulous YNES, and please, please don’t ever get a better job!

© YNES, 2021

You can follow YNES’ social media here and here. YNES’ new single, Better Job, is out today – the 12th of February, and is available on Spotify now. Listen to it below.

Single Review: Blanketman’s ‘Leave The South’ Calls For Mass Exodus

© Blanketman, 2021

By Josh Loynes

When was the last time anyone north of a subjective line between the Watford Gap and the Peak District descaled a kettle? Or bought a Brita water filter (as advertised on Channel 4) to purify their harder-than-concrete tap water before drinking? Or paid over £6 for a pint outside of an O2 venue? If it wasn’t within the last few months, then pat yourself on the back, because in all likelihood you’ve already achieved Blanketman’s latest mission statement.

When describing any music with a somewhat post-punk edge to it, particularly when it originates in Manchester, it is often a struggle not to bring up The Fall as a comparison. After all, they’ve gone above and beyond their quota for influencing newer bands. But ponder for a second the idea that such a comparison might not just be used as a description of harsh guitars, cryptic lyrics and avant-garde song writing, but as a sentiment somewhat shared about geographical preferences (See Hit the North, Leave the Capitol, etc). Amongst the more anorak inclined post-punk fans, there is a tremendous amount of chatter in online message boards about the overall message of The Fall’s Hit the North, whether it is really endorsing or more dismissive of God’s own wasteland. But regardless of where you fall in that heavyweight debate, the links and inspiration shine clearly through and the message preached by Blanketman leaves little to discuss- Leave the South.

Hurtling along the song busts forth with a frenetic pace, a tumbling rhythm of spiky guitars and thundering drums, ducking and weaving with its melody and barrelling along to an anthemic chorus. The title chant, “LEAVE THE SOUTH!” rings out clear and distinct with Adam Hopper’s lyrics delving into the disparities of southern living and arriving at a decision – “Maybe it’s about time I took a train, I don’t think they’d miss me anyway”. Exceptional bass playing is another Fall comparison that’s fair to make- never idle Jeremy Torralvo’s bass bounces exponentially upwards and forwards throughout the track, perfectly countering the skittering guitars dissonantly descending throughout the aforementioned chorus.

Comparisons can’t just be limited to Mr Smith’s back catalogue however, as the somewhat sarcastic and tongue in cheek patriotism baked into the core of the song paints the whole piece with a recognisably Kinks-esque flavour and sense of humour- indulging in while also sticking two fingers up at classic Britishisms. As a result, the track then is able to stand upon its own two feet as more than just a pretty well written and exciting song – but instead as an exciting taste of what is to come. More like this please, Blanketman!

Blanketman’s debut EP, National Trust will be released on the 19th of March this year, via Pias.

SINGLE REVIEW: BOSHE AND SAM SHAW’S CORONA COLLABORATION

© Ella Heaton, Sam Shaw.

By Josh Loynes

When daily life is reduced to an anxious, out of control nightmare sometimes, the perfect countermeasure and comfort is a bittersweet yet beautiful dream. Here to provide that, slipping straight out of a synthesised cloud, this collab single from Boshe (Ella Heaton) and Sam Shaw plunges deep into washed out dream pop sounds and drags us back into a smooth, enveloping pool of hazy noise.

Maybe it’s the synths harking back to a time when we were younger and it was cool to love Tame Impala and Sterling Dual (not that I don’t secretly indulge in both to this day), or it’s entirely unrelated and just happened to coincide with me fully grasping the impact of recent events, but I couldn’t help feeling profoundly nostalgic listening to this song. It left me reflecting and reminiscing on “what was” where throughout my life, the last year included, I’ve largely been accepting of the present.

Probably contributing to this sudden onset of ennui are Heaton’s reverb-drenched lyrics that throb with an aching melancholy, crying for a love lost that never even was. Buried deep in the mix, they often merely suggest their presence, and leave you searching and longing for more, existing as an alluring concept much like their subject matter.

Driving the song and tethering it back down to reality throughout its runtime is the firm and steady march of an unyielding but soft drum machine, with its only company at the forefront of the track being the light, skittering bursts of keys bouncing gleefully from note to note.

Propping all this up, relentless waves of shimmering synths make up the body of the track, creating a ghostly and translucent feel to the meat on the bones, a tonne of feathers too soft to feel solid but with more than enough weight to crush you. Credit has to be given to Shaw for the production throughout; the enrapturing dance of vocals and melody rising, falling and shifting together is really the heart and soul of of the track and what solidifies the song as a bittersweet ode to modern love. It was a pleasure to listen to, and I can’t encourage you to listen to it enough.