YONAKA — Seize the Power — Album Review

Alternative | Rock

Listen on Spotify | Listen on Apple Music

Being a Brighton-based band, it is safe to say that I was able to jump into YONAKA and their discography quite early on. It all started with their live show at The Prince Albert, complete with a bar tab and some awesome tunes.

But very shortly after (perhaps even around the same time), I fully started getting into their stuff, just in time for the release of their debut album, 2019’s Don’t Wait ’Til Tomorrow.

Considering that Don’t Wait ’Til Tomorrow was YONAKA’s debut effort, it was an extremely good effort to really establish the band and their aesthetic. I look back on that album now and remember just how many awesome tunes there are. Songs like “Fired Up” and “Punch Bag” are some of the epic anthems that spring to mind.

But now in 2021, we move on to the next step for the Brighton band, and arguably one of the most important steps for any artist; the sophomore album. YONAKA’s answer to this challenge arrives with the name of Seize the Power.

In more ways than one, this album does quite a lot of shaking things up. But if you were to ask me if this was for better or for worse, my answer would be quite a mixed one.

Beginning with the better part of this album shaking things up, I did feel quite engaged by the album in a contextual sense. It is quite the challenge to make an album that points at patriarchy and misogyny when these topics are quite saturated in the musical world. So the fact that YONAKA did so well with this topic on what is only their second album. feels like quite the achievement.

I also loved the positive focus this album’s narrative had too, which was best shown in the album’s closer “Anthem”. It definitely had the album finish on an optimistic note, which I think is always one of the best ways to conclude a project.

However, the album is a bit more of a mixed bag musically.

I feel that my mixed feeling could have partially been caused by the tracks that teased Seize the Power. First up was the title track, which had arrived at the very beginning of the year. It presented an entirely different dynamic in which lead singer Theresa Jarvis takes on a more rap-heavy and boisterous facade. This drastic change in style had me struggling to invest myself in the track quite a bit, although the bridge melody serves as the one part of the track I do enjoy.

This teaser was followed by a few more, which felt far more reminiscent of the YONAKA I was more familiar with and featured more melodic performances from Jarvis. Her singing voice is incredible after all, so it seemed like happy days for everyone.

However, upon the full release of the album, it seems to suffer from what I now like to call amo-syndrome. And what I mean by this, is that I felt a very similar way towards Bring Me The Horizon’s 2019 album amo. Both their album, and YONAKA’s Seize the Power, present a power struggle between one aesthetic and the other. In the case of the latter, the more epic alternative rock sound that fans are more familiar with is pitted up against a more new and unique rap-rock aesthetic.

As a result, I failed to be nearly as invested in the rap-rock feel. In fact, it almost feels as if the band aren’t completely sure about it themselves at points. Even with a feature as impressive as Fever 333 on the bill, I still didn’t feel completely on that side of the album.

In contrast to this, the more anthemic and melodic tracks range from great to incredible. Songs like “Ordinary”, “Raise Your Glass” and “Call Me a Saint” served as three of the albums biggest highlights for me.

And in-between all of this, the one track that seems to strike a good balance between the two, would be the sixth track “Greedy”. Going forward, if YONAKA decide to keep pushing for their newer sounds, songs like this one would be a great place to start.

All in all, I feel that Seize the Power would’ve been a more enjoyable, or at least an easier album to digest, if there wasn’t such a stark contrast between two styles. It may just come down to personal taste, but I believe the melodic tracks reign supreme on this album. Luckily, there are a handful of gems on this thing, which will keep the YONAKA hype train rolling for now.

Favourite Tracks: Ordinary | Raise Your Glass | Call Me a Saint

Least Favourite Track: Seize the Power

Creature Records | Believe

Enjoyment: 7/10 | Memorability: 8/10 | Atmosphere: 6/10

Uniqueness: 7/10 | Satisfaction: 6/10 | Narrative: 8/10

Final Score: 7/10

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