The English supernova Yungblud—real name Dominic Richard Harrison, hailing from South Yorkshire—has been an anti-pop star since his 2018 breakthrough, amassing fans and ink with his insistent hooks, soul-exposing lyrics, and endlessly quotable interviews. His third album is self-titled, which implies a reset—although if anything, Yungblud’s version involves scaling up as much as possible.
Yungblud is a whirlwind listen, fusing together building blocks of various rock subgenres—mostly Britpop’s hip-shaking carnality and emo’s on-the-brink wails—then spit-shining them a bit before adding confessional lyrics. (He’s not baring everything, mind you; the Autotune effect on “I CRY 2,” which gives the titular verb the blurred-face treatment, is a musical signal that keeping his friends’ secrets is just as important as broadcasting his own.) Yungblud has said that he wants to avoid the viral-sensation frenzies that resulted from his earlier singles, which led him to festival stages and collaborations with the likes of Halsey and Machine Gun Kelly. But the brash, guitar-laden hard-candy rockers on Yungblud, which was assembled by the artist alongside producer Chris Greatti (Willow, Poppy) and musician Jordan Gable, are ripe for arena-crowd singalongs and TikTok soundtracks.
The 12-track album opens with “The Funeral,” which channels the gothy flamboyance of My Chemical Romance, Yungblud’s snarl sounding like the British cousin of MCR leader Gerard Way’s wail. “Tissues” plucks the rhythm from The Cure’s bashfully infatuated 1985 cut “Close To Me” and blows it up larger than life, then uses it as a basis for a strenuous, if wary love song: “I’m in love again/ and tomorrow I’ll be sad,” Yungblud howls on the brightly spangled chorus, with extra emphasis on that last word. On “Memories,” a slash-and-burn breakup chronicle that possesses the harried pace of ‘00s electropop sleaze, Willow plays the role of Yungblud’s superego, her spat-out criticisms revealing the wellspring of Yungblud’s overwhelming angst. On Yungblud, the 25-year-old polymath wrestles with sex and death, love and hate, and other seemingly diametrically opposed notions, trying to find salvation in huge riffs and throat-scorching caterwauls. There are lighter moments; “Don’t Feel Like Feelin’ Sad Today” sounds like a road-trip anthem, with sunburst guitars and a galloping bassline, but it’s actually a wish that Yungblud could just stay in bed (and away from the internet) with a close confidant, while “Sweet Heroine” is a gently spectral love song with tender lyrics about how addiction can ruin a relationship. It’s far from the only reflective song on the hyper-stimulated Yungblud, but it’s the one that best shows where he might take his artistry in the years to come.
Editor’s Note: You may have noticed that we got rid of the stars on our reviews. If you’re an engaged music fan in 2022 your opinion isn’t going to be defined by some random number. We’ll tell you right away (with some new labels) when a new album is a must-hear or, in rarer cases, an instant classic. After that, our critics will help you make up your own damn mind.