Even if their self-titled debut doesn’t appear on every “best of the year” list, there seems to be a rare unspoken acceptance among music critics/bloggers/nerds that 2011 upstarts Yuck do what they do well — which is to say, they’re excellent at raking through 90s college rock, identifying which bands to use as reference points and which not to touch. What makes Yuck an anomaly is that they’re so deeply embedded in the era, they seem unaware of the extent. Like it doesn’t even dawn on them that not everyone in the 21st century is wearing outfits entirely made from denim and obsessing over how to make their guitars sound crunchy and loud, really loud, except when they want them to evoke Yo La Tengo. They’re time-machine travelers, kids born in the wrong decade, four sets of ears with a knack for picking out the best parts of Pavement.
SPIN music editor Charles Aaron has made a case for why Yuck is, actually, maybe, better than the myriad bands they’re recycling. He reminds you who we’re dealing with here in case short-term memory loss has set in in your late 20s/early 30s: Teenage Fanclub, Dinosaur Jr., Pavement, the Vaselines, Sonic Youth, the Jesus and Mary Chain, Yo La Tengo, Nirvana, Elliott Smith, My Bloody Valentine, Sebadoh, Superchunk, Lush, Built to Spill and Beat Happening, among others. Granted, the 90 bullet points he offers as evidence read more like one of those “you know you were a 90s child if…” mass e-mails you occasionally get from your high-school friends back home (there are references of Sweet Valley High, Rex Manning Day and Sassy) than any critical analysis, but I support the cause nonetheless. Aaron is arguing that a band who heavily relies on the past can actually improve on what’s already been done, and as we find ourselves at the tail end of the year wrapped up in retromania with no signs of stopping in 2012, it’s an important thing to remember. Whether or not this applies to Yuck specifically is a matter for debate, but anyway, his digressions are worth checking out here, even if just for that Rex Manning shout-out.