Yuck's Max Bloom faced down new songwriting challenges on his band's second album by concentrating on making Glow & Behold a more cohesive, concise whole.
The London band's 2011 self-titled debut drew widespread praise on both sides of the Atlantic for its invigorating take on 1990s alternative rock. For Yuck's follow-up, the band absorbed the departure of frontman Daniel Blumberg by tightening its circle of influences and bringing in a new producer to hone the sound.
"The preparation was quite exciting, thinking more in terms of an album and which track would go where," Bloom says.
Moving from a songwriting partnership with Blumberg that predated Yuck (the duo previously played in Cajun Dance Party) to one that featured him at the forefront allowed him to stick to his initial vision, he says, working to contain the energy from Yuck and pouring it into a new record.
"It was challenging in the sense that he wasn't there and he had been for so long. I started writing this album . . . pretty much as soon as the first one was finished and before it was released. I didn't really want to wait any longer to get going, make the album, and make music," he says. "I had quite a clear vision of how I wanted the album to be. It wasn't easy, but I was determined about what I wanted to do, so I didn't have any doubt in that respect."
For recording, Yuck turned to producer Chris Coady, whose work with Yeah Yeah Yeahs, TV on the Radio, Grizzly Bear, Beach House, and former Yuck tourmates Smith Westerns had caught Bloom's ear.
"I liked the recordings [Coady had] done, and they had an element of brightness which I quite liked," Bloom says. "I thought his style would suit ours. It was a gut instinct."
The band holed up in Dreamland Recording Studios, a former church in Hurley, New York, 15 minutes from the nearest town.
"It was different. It was the right conditions to record the album, for sure, but I don't think I quite knew what I was getting myself into. I grew up in London, one of the busiest cities in the world, so going from that to complete isolation was definitely a shock. When you're in isolation and you have a job to do, you definitely get sucked into whatever you're doing," he says.
"Recording an album is a long process, and it's quite painstaking at times. The fact that there's no escape made for some really, really good times and some times when we felt like we were in jail or something. When you felt like that, it was a sign to get in the car and drive to the nearest town, which was Woodstock, and live life like a normal person for a couple hours and then come back and carry on," he says. "I look back on it and it was absolutely incredible, one of the most memorable experiences of my life."
Bloom says the addition of Ed Hayes on guitar has sharpened and energized the band's live show.
"The sound of the band didn't necessarily lie in Daniel's hands. I don't think that the band was resting on his shoulders," Bloom says. "It was definitely shared between all of us. Me, Jonny [Rogoff], and Mariko [Doi] contributed a lot to the band and it just wouldn't feel right to change the name. It felt like the same band still."