Hailing from the Bay Area of San Francisco, we were enamoured with A Yawn Worth Yelling, not only by their awesome name, but also by the PR promise of a band that sounds somewhat ‘reminiscent of hellogoodbye and The Dear Hunter’. We were delighted to see A Yawn Worth Yelling fulfil this promise on ‘Play Pretend’, a sunshine-infused EP that goes into some darker places than you’d realise upon first listen…
‘Start Somewhere’ is full of West Coast vibes as it begins acoustically and subtly, before the electric guitars are tuned up and give it some extra oomph. The vocals are reminiscent of Ben Folds, while the song itself offers a nod towards Sorority Noise. With its polished production, there’s a real joy in listening to the big pop sound while you’ll soon realise the lyrics are a plea for companionship: ‘And I know there’s no easy way to start this, cause there’s a chance the both of us will fall in. And I know there’s no way of telling where your heart is, but it’s gotta be somewhere’. There’s a Gaslight Anthem-esque opening on second track ‘Lonely Prisoner’, while there’s also a Springsteen-esque rasp in Tyler Boyd’s vocal delivery. There are also lyrics to make you laugh out loud as the surf-pop song builds up momentum: ‘Making love to yourself won’t amount to much’; and the chorus is a real earworm: ‘Take a look inside a mirror, you’re just a lonely prisoner. You’re stuck inside the walls that you built here’.
‘All my friends are old enough to drink, I’m a man that’s losing sleep’… So opens ‘Empty Space’, a song that sees the band belie their tender age and one that captures the feel-good spirit of MGMT before they went completely bonkers. Much like Bleachers, A Yawn Worth Yelling are a band that happily embrace their pop sound and this song’s topics take you from the edges of the solar system (‘In-between the stars, it’s just empty space’) right down into the darkest depths of the ocean. ‘Missing Ember’ is a song packed to the brim with pop culture references, with everything from Microsoft and Photoshop to the defining and rather timely repeated refrain of ‘I saw the Millennium Falcon’ warranting a mention. Despite this fun side, there’s a darkness lying within as the band sing about the breakdown of a family and an abusive figure , especially with the reference to painting a miniature Van Gogh on a sister’s cast.
The final track on the EP is ‘Gotta Go’, a song which contains more spoken-word-style vocals and a melody that would fit in with late 90s/early 00s American punk. A celebration of love in all its forms, the lyrics are incredibly personal – ‘Do your best not to embrace me in a way that’s different from your friend’ and ‘I’m dining on your gaze even though it leaves me shaking. I want more’ being especially revealing. It’s a heartbreaking but ultimately positive song that sounds somewhat akin to Tom Petty if he had developed a love of odd time signatures.
You won’t be bored listening to A Yawn Worth Yelling, but you might end up shouting along with joy.
Released independently 18 September.