I’ll be honest, because I’ve got nothing better to do. I haven’t always been sure what an ‘Yvette’ is. A river in France? Of course. But I didn’t know even that until moments before I started writing. More importantly, Yvette is a band. Why more importantly? Because something in the mood and style fits me so well: abrasive, mechanical, and full of random angsty noise.
For the record, snuggling up next to Yvette is a better idea than snuggling up to me, because, for now, music will cuddle you much more effectively. But my mood is not the point. Yvette, the band, is.
Brooklyn-based Yvette is Noah (guitars/vocals) and Dale (drums/synths). If ever a band qualified for the title, Yvette is no wave. It’s noise and nihilistic song structure echo … well … it echoes. Rhythmically, it feels like a minimalist version of Nitzer Ebb with strident industrial rhythms delivered on mostly analog real-world instruments and tortured synthesizers. Is it industrial? Not in the Ministry sense, but yes, sort of. It’s industrial in a kind of dystopian futuristic rain storm where random corrosive green drops mix in with the regular cold driving rain. I can’t help it, though, when I hear little bits and pieces of Depeche Mode in the somewhat detached, droning vocals. Imagine that combined with the electro-art period of Wire and all the machine shop leftovers imaginable and you’ve got Yvette. Such a sweet exotic name for such a dark, nearly brutal sound. If those descriptions don’t work, pretend the dark rhythmically folk sound of the Dodos got trapped in a rusty warehouse and merged with the debris.
All these vague uncomfortable descriptions lead directly to Yvette’s recent album Process To know if you can survive Yvette, listen to “Cuts Me in Half”. If you don’t run screaming, consider yourself a fan. Every alienating noisy trick in the whole album lives somewhere in this song. For a chaotic angry mind, nothing works better. Rest assured, “Mirrored Walls” is more accessible and comfortable as the simple driving rhythm seemed lifted from the Dodos, not as plagiarism, but respect. Yes, there’s still feedback and noise, but you’ll find the angst to have a more pleasant, even contemplative note to it. Of course, when the lyrics ask “Do you feel like you’re falling apart”, you have to ask yourself, are you? “Tempered Glass” is the artistic noise rock version of a rock anthem. It’s the “For Those About to Rock” of a certain kind alienated youth. No, the lyrics are nothing anthemic, but the driving insistent pulsing acts musically like a rousing chorus, just not a blissful cheery one. “Everything in Reverse” starts out with a lonely voice (much like Majical Cloudz) quickly joined by phantom-of-the-machine-shop music. It soars in the gloom over the river Styx to a shadowy alcove filled with echoing consonant and dissonant choral sounds. Nearing the end of the album “Holding Nothing” sounds like a Depeche Mode cover, close enough to the original to know what’s happening, but far enough away to be it’s own thing. It is not a cover, not at all. Just a metaphor …
I know as well as you do that this isn’t every day listening, but, for a certain mood, Yvette is the wasabi to your sushi, a sinus-clearing pungency that pulls you in just as it pushes you away. The rhythm holds you in your place while the vocals grab your attention and the noise assault tries to steal it all away. I know, I really know, that this doesn’t sound like a crowd pleasure, but trust me, it is really good, but at carefully chosen moments. You’ll know if it’s right for you, but, for me, it fills the role of hardcore punk for the more cerebral angsty sort. That sort is me. Want a taste? How about this, more relentless and almost as extreme as “Cuts Me in Half”: