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Yard Act ‘Where’s My Utopia’ review: it’s ace, top, mint and indeed boss

To the dancefloor! Yard Act's banger-packed second album is a complete treat.

4.0 rating

By Nick Reilly

Yard Act
Yard Act (Picture: Aaron Parsons/Rolling Stone UK)

Since releasing their debut album, The Overload, Yard Act have scaled the heights that any fledgling band would bit your hand off for. A collaboration with Elton John, sell-out tours and scoring a Mercury Prize nomination are just a few of these.

READ MORE: Yard Act – Between dreams and reality

But success, as frontman James Smith notes on their second album Where’s My Utopia, doesn’t necessarily translate to fulfiment.. Instead, as that title suggests, it’s a record written through the eyes of Smith while searching for his own personal wonderland.

This means there’s soul-searing honesty on the brooding ‘Petroleum’, which was inspired by the moment when Smith turned on an audience at Butlins in early 2023 after experiencing burn-out from intense touring. Elsewhere, ‘Down By The Stream’ sees Smith turn the gaze on his own childhood – peppered with an unexpected hip hop groove.

That groove, in fact, defines album two. If their debut saw the group wrongly pigeonholed as the latest in a long line of post-punk revival champions, this latest effort shows they’re a far greater creative proposition than that.

Instead, it’s packed with complete bangers. ‘Dream Job’ – perhaps the most direct example of the record’s soul-searching mantra – bounds along with an 80s’ dance vibe, while Smith’s central refrain of “Ace! Top! Mint! Boss!” has already become the band’s unofficial catchphrase for the coming year.

And through it all is the subtle strain of positivity that runs deep through the band’s DNA. On closer A Vineyard For The North, their spiritual successor to first album standout 100% Endurance, the group use climate change as a framing device to show why we should all keep dancing through the darkness.

All considered, it’s an album that feels like a real step up and one that broadens the possibilities of Yard Act’s brilliantly wonky sound. It’s ace, top, mint and indeed boss…