Angel Du$t - YAK: A Collection of Truck Songs (Cover Artwork)

Angel Du$t

YAK: A Collection of Truck Songs (2021)

Roadrunner Records

There’s one thing you can’t criticize Angel Du$t for and that’s authenticity. As their music has moved away from a traditional hardcore sound and into more expansive jangly pop, the band has found themselves less This Is Hardcore and more Riot Fest in presentation. There’s been more than one show I’ve seen where this transition played out in a live setting with old heads giving the side eye to Justice Tripp’s acoustic led crooning while newer fans bounce around in bliss nary a notion about the previous heaviness associated with the singer. With YAK: A Collection of Truck Songs, Angel Du$t makes it clear they won’t be limited by anyone else’s boxes.

YAK: A Collection of Truck Songs starts first not with this release, but with the songs debuted on the evergrowing EP Lil House which eventually became Bigger House. The latter carries remixes of the originals from the likes of Panda Bear from Animal Collective. The releases felt like a signal to Angel Du$t fans that Pretty Buff was a precursor and not an anomaly. YAK: A Collection of Truck Songs feels further like an outgrowth of those efforts. It includes all of the songs previously released sans “Lil House.”

“All The Way Dumb” remains not just a highlight in the initial batch of songs, but one that warmly settles the album into the vibe it rides till the end. It’s bouncy energy is fully translated into a something that nears post-punk and brit pop territory particularly with its inclusions of string sections. It transitions nicely into the baroque pop of “Dancing On The Radio" featuring Tim Armstrong. His guest spot is well spent if not for his opening slur, “Let’s organize a collective peace” over plucky acoustics and minimal percussion. If Pretty Buff produced some mixed reactions when translated to a live setting, it’s hard to imagine how something like this would come off.

This is not to say YAK: A Collection of Truck Songs is wrong for leaning into its broader array of influences. “No Vacancy” and “Fear Some” get right the loud soft dynamics a band like The Pixies utilized while wrapping them in the melodies of a late 90s alternative radio band like Everclear. It is to say it’s hard to see Angel Du$t replicate some of the more enjoyable elements the studio allotted them live. See the horns peppering “Yak” which are key to its warming layers building on simple acoustic strumming. For fans who might be hoping for some sort of throwback to their roots, there’s really not much to find here. Perhaps the punchy guitars on “Never Ending Game” or fuzzy solo in “Truck Songs” come closest.

YAK: A Collection of Truck Songs feels like a band authentically living up to the container they were trying to create through Angel Du$t; a band that served as outgrowth because of the inflexibility Trapped Under Ice offered its members. It’s not a surprise bands like them and Turnstile, who of course are connected, are redefining hardcore with that in mind. However, it’s hard to call this a redefinition rather than something different all together.