The Yalla Yallas – What It Means To Be Human

  • Steve White posted
  • Reviews

The Yalla Yallas

What It Means To Be Human - Self Released

Always developing, always testing out new ideas, always experimenting. Not afraid to do their own thing, to just go with what feels right at a certain moment in time, to ram feelings and emotions into every word and every note. A perfect description of The Yalla Yallas, the Leeds based band responsible for some explosive, passionate live performances and some equally high-octane rock ‘n’ roll long players. They’ve always been unafraid to deliver songs in whatever way they think best suits. Previous albums have been chock-full of slashing punk rock guitars and furious lyrics. Yet there’s always been deviations from this with songs that have been tinged with blues and ‘country punk’. Their previous album ‘Outsider’ added sax, banjo and piano to the mix all the while overlaid with singer/songwriter Rob Galloway’s lyrics telling life exactly as it is. ‘Outsider’ was one of our favourites of 2019 but ‘What It Means To Be Human’, The Yalla Yallas fifth studio album, has managed to take things to a whole new level.

The key to this has been the simple fact that The Yalla Yallas don’t live by other people’s expectations. In fact, it’s perfectly easy to imagine the band sitting down and agreeing on one simple principle – that the response to anyone who might question what they’re doing is simply “fuck ‘em”. ‘What It Means To Be Human’ is certainly a step away from previous albums, even from ‘Outsider’ which itself took the band in a new direction. But running through it all, even the instrumentals, one thing that hasn’t changed is Galloway’s ability to perfectly wear his heart on his sleeve and focus on the realities of what’s going on. “Through centuries and thousands of years, it’s taken all of this time for me to be here. And I wanna live” introduces opener ‘I Wanna Live’ – atmospheric, almost a ballad hiding under waves of a haunting rock guitar that leads deep into questions about love, morality, conflict.

Previous single ‘Morning Sun’ appears early – ethereal guitars, poetic lyrics and possibly the most infectious beat you’ll hear this year. ‘Velvet Prayers’, whilst being an instrumental, invites you to write your own lyrics as it carries you along on a foot tapping 7-minute spellbinding excursion to every corner of the globe via every tiny, dark, spirit bar you can find. Listen at full volume in a blacked-out room and your thoughts will come thick and fast. Before long you quickly realise that ‘What It Means To Be Human’ isn’t just a collection of songs but a journey through every emotion, every thought, every question we have about what exactly does it mean to be here. Why are we here, what can we achieve, what has shaped us and how can we help shape others? Why can simple beauty or textures stir such powerful emotions? In ‘Brimham Rocks’ Galloway nails these thoughts perfectly. ‘What It Means To Be Human’ is full of hope, reinforcing the simple fact that life is fragile but when we don’t give up the good will happen. “And just when I thought that a guy like me is finished a new chapter is beginning, a new sequel is now screaming” states ‘Always Remember’ during the country rock ‘n roll we’ve heard The Yalla Yallas do so well before. ‘Sonic Car Wash’ is just that. A raucous, throbbing, sonic noise that thrashes you all over for a full 8 minutes. No words, just an opportunity to release some anger. The musical equivalent of the temporary euphoric feeling after just smashing an inanimate object to pieces.

With ‘What It Means To Be HumanThe Yalla Yallas haven’t just taken a small step away from the noise of their punk rock roots. It’s a huge leap. Inspired by the likes of Primal Scream, Eno, The Chemical Brothers (and possibly a little bit of Johnny Cash, which is no bad thing) together with moments of playing in complete darkness and swapping instruments to bring more creativity it’s little wonder this album takes the band in a new direction. But let’s make one thing perfectly clear. This isn’t a soft album. It’s not sentimental self-indulgence. This isn’t going to alienate The Yalla Yallas fans. If there’s any justice this album will bring others flocking to the club. ‘What It Means To Be Human’ is raw and honest. At no point does it hold back from telling things as they are. It’s a voyage through life’s questions, doubts, hopes and dreams. It’s a voyage everyone deserves to be a part of.

What It Means To Be Human’ is self-released on June 21st and can be ordered now on CD and limited edition orange vinyl from The Yalla Yallas website here.