Raw, aggressive and intelligent, this is a fascinating debut from a very promising band.
Mike Haydock 2011
Meet Romily Alice, lead singer of Japanese Voyeurs. "I only want to be an animal!" she screams on X-Ray Ted, while distorted guitars slash away in the background. It’s fair to say she likes delving into the animalistic side of human nature: her lyrics are full of scratches and itches and stitches; of aggression and violence. And throughout this debut album she flits, sometimes within a single phrase, between cute-as-pie little-girl vocals and spittle-filled, blood-curdling howls. "I’m a masochist and I’m looking for a little fun," she sings on Dumb.
It’s not like we haven’t heard all this before. Katie Jane Garside of Daisy Chainsaw and Queen Adreena had a similar approach, and Japanese Voyeurs’ inspirations – Tool, Melvins, Nirvana – coupled their mighty riffs with dark lyrics. But Yolk still sounds fresh and vital thanks to two things: Alice’s unpredictable, captivating performance, and the band’s way with a catchy riff.
Their sound has often been labelled grunge, but that’s not entirely accurate: there are heavier forces at work here, riffs and ideas from metal bands such as Pantera, Down and Alice in Chains. But the grunge link is understandable because Japanese Voyeurs also love a good melody, and Yolk is packed with memorable choruses that you’ll find yourself singing along to before you realise what you’re singing. Essentially, it is a paean to 90s rock music in all its forms, balancing the quiet with the loud and ricocheting between those two extremes.
Opener You’re So Cool and Milk Teeth are absolutely huge – the final 10 seconds of the latter represents Yolk’s most punishing moment, as crushing, staccato riffs lurch from nowhere. And when Japanese Voyeurs break down the standard pop-song formula and let the music take control, they excel: the middle-eight of Cry Baby and the second half of Get Hole take the band to a whole extra level of power.
The album was produced by Garth Richardson (aka GGGarth), who has worked with Rage Against the Machine, and he has used all his experience to shape it. Raw, aggressive, intelligent and playful, Yolk is a fascinating debut from a very promising band.