Yes Yes A Thousand Times Yes – ‘Not Once, Not Never’ Review

Posted: by Eli

At this point, “Broken World Media kills it yet again” has become one of the most frequently used phrases in my vernacular. The Pittsburgh, PA label, headed by Derrick Shanholtzer-Dvorak of The World is a Beautiful Place & I am No Longer Afraid to Die, has consistently put out some of the best (though often under appreciated) releases in modern emo, punk, and indie over the past couple of years. And with the release of Yes Yes A Thousand Times Yes’ debut record, Not Once, Not Never, that phrase continues to apply.

Adding to the label’s list of absurdly long band names (Prince Daddy & the Hyena, Posture & the Grizzly, Perspective, a Lovely Hand to Hold, and of course TWIABP) Yes Yes A Thousand Times Yes are both a mouthful to namedrop, and an earful to take in. Not Once, Not Never is a makeup of mathy riffs, breakneck drumming, a variety of different vocal approaches, and tasteful melodies. Really, really nice melodies are what ultimately set these guys apart from other mathy-emo bands.

The first two tracks showcase the band’s proficiency with choppy, hammer-on-heavy, Snowing-style guitarwork; proving they have the chops to impress. However, they don’t overdo it with hyper-technical fretwork throughout each song, which would’ve become tiresome by the record’s halfway point. Instead, they find the perfect balance between that type of instrumentation and fuzzy, hefty power chords that give the listener time to bang their head and recoup from the finger flying licks.

A great example of this is the song “Haunted Houses Are For Losers,” which is focused around a dizzying, off-kilter math riff that eventually dives into a thumping breakdown and a blast-beat crescendo. “No Cat” is an excellent display of multi-faceted riffage as well. It starts with the sort of climbing, palm-muted pattering that TWIABP mastered on “Harmlessness,” and then rips into a full-on PUP-esque riff-both in form and in tone that’s an absolute earworm.

In addition to the instrumentation, this record features some really interesting vocal performances as well. The main vocalist often recalls Matt Diamond of JANK — the easiest comparison to YYATTY — with airy, layered vocals that tend to soar above the instrumentals in somewhat of a shoegazey manner. While not quite possessing the range of Diamond, the alternations between their falsetto and their (or perhaps another bandmate’s) gravelly yelp draws heavily from the dynamic on JANK’s debut Awkward Pop Songs. Most everything is sang melodiously, allowing lines such as, “My shirt smells like the cigarette smoke you had in your mouth nine hours ago,” to catch the listener’s ear quickly and then remain there-which is something that many mathy emo bands struggle to accomplish, given the disorienting, unconventional nature of their music.

However, YYATTY explore many different subgenres on this record that at times feel out of place, but are nonetheless extremely enjoyable. “Little Mice Pirouettes” features dreamy, falsetto vocals and light, indie pop percussion that recall Alex G, but the track builds like a TWIABP song. “Sucking It In” toys with grungy guitars and ditches much of the technicality for more of a Your Favorite Weapon-era pop punk feel. It doesn’t fit snuggly anywhere on the tracklist, but it shows the band’s versatility and reinforces that they’re not afraid to experiment.

Like many debuts, Not Once, Not Never is rough around the edges. However, YYATTY take what many believe to be a stale genre and add their own, distinguishing twist to it. A band that can shred, experiment, and get stuck in your head all at once? Yes Yes A Thousand Times Yes!

Score: 7/10