Today’s musical landscape stands in current need of an injection of passion and energy. While there are plenty of fine bands and great artists on the market working in the industry, there’s been a dearth of epic, sweeping rock that conjures great emotion and creativity in one concise package like imports Muse, Coldplay, Sigor Ros, and U2. It’s the kind of art that music fans love and search for, probing here and there in hopes of finding the next great band. And with the discovery of the Canadian three-piece outfit YUCA and the release of their rousing debut, Rebuilding the Fallen Empire, that search may have just ended.
Hailing from Langley, Canada, the trio has spent the last five years cutting their teeth on their music, tirelessly working on their sound and performing nationally and internationally, garnering acclaim and grabbing some great headlines and opportunities along the way. Among those include the chance to perform at the 2010 Vancouver Olympic Games, having a song placed in a video game honoring those Olympics, and sharing the stage with artists like The Killers, Metric, Lifehouse, and more.
The record benefits greatly from the group’s shared experiences, their five years of touring and work coming to fruition, the title carrying a double meaning.
“It means reviving rock n’ roll,” shares lead vocalist and guitarist, Matt Borck, “But it’s also personal. We’ve been in the trenches and working our butts off for the band, so it also symbolizes making our dreams a reality.”
Part of that dream was to capture the energy and excitement the band has come to be known for in their live performances. And in an effort to capture that live vibe, the band opted to produce the record themselves and recorded with “an organic first-take tracking aesthetic.” “I wanted to be exposed and free. We strove for imperfection as perfection, going for first takes and picking emotion over anything else,” says Borck.
If Rebuilding the Fallen Empire is YUCA’s “imperfection,” look out for their “perfect” stuff. “Skeletal Desires” launches the album off to a powerful start, big, bright horns offsetting a relentless guitar drive before Borck settles in with his Matthew Bellamy-styled vocals, reaching and soaring for the skies. He keeps that soulful soaring going on “Melt You,” ripping through guitar chords with ease while Andy Boldt’s bass throbs heavy alongside Dave Atkinson’s pounding drum work.
“Maybe We’ll Riot” finds more pulsing bass lines and experimental flows but is one of the more accessible tracks, the rock ‘n’ roll passion ample while “Heavy as a Stone” introduces the band’s wall of sound approach, nuanced yet frenetic instrumental flows over Borck’s impassioned vocals as he sings of common human threads. A rising epic flair colors “I’m Alive She Said,” the moving vocals and Edge-like guitars invoking thoughts of U2 as “Love” opts for a progressively slow build, gentle notes building to a crescendo of sonic stimuli that resonates strongly.
There’s a moody element to “Where Are My Soldiers At?,” the tone somewhat dark and theatrical, Atkinson’s drums pounding the way ahead as Borck’s vocal range stretches high, singing with passion. Experimental is a good way to define “Anthem of Need,” the band opting for some inspirationally sound musical jamming before moving the track forward, the playfulness making one long to see the band live. Influences of Muse come to the forefront on “Give Up My Ghost,” the whole track showcasing those elements while still staying true to YUCA’s mentality as “Sparrow” closes the album out with a sweeping and subdued song that recalls the emotion of Sigor Ros.
There are few artists daring enough to even try, let alone succeed, in doing what YUCA has done with their debut, Rebuilding the Fallen Empire. Rolling the dice and hoping for the best with their live recording method, the band has captured that live sound without fail, the energy and spontaneity of it simply pouring more gasoline onto the vibrant creativity the group produces. Perfect for fans of Muse or U2, Rebuilding the Fallen Empire is an album poised to put YUCA on the musical map.