Review: Yak — Pursuit of Momentary Happiness

Ah yes, the second album challenge. Everybody knows that the more praise your debut gets, the harder it will be to follow-up on that. The omnipresent existential question ends up revolving around a central dilemma: what to deliver? Besides the initially obvious answer of “one’s artistic expression” (which in spite of its dated, naively romantic connotation, is or should be what it is all about), it’s no secret that both the artist and the label will be carefully pondering on which path to pursue: more of the same and ending up being accused of simplistic repetition or — worse! — boredom? A completely different approach and risk losing one’s fanbase altogether? Even if the answer is the formulaic “we make music for ourselves and if other people like it it’s a bonus” we know all too well that it would be needlessly hypocritical to pretend it’s all the same.

This particular nail-biting pressure that comes with the sophomore LP can be overly harmful to the band’s creative pursuits — especially if the debut was met with considerable success. Add a singer investing every penny he had in the bank on it, and you have a perfect storm of urgency and obsession that comes with this type of all-or-nothing gambling.

I have no problem in admitting that after 2016’s exciting Alas Salvation I was both thrilled and terrified about the prospect of a new album; having instantly fallen in love with their debut, I was so afraid of being disappointed that I tried to keep my expectations low, even postponing a first listen until I felt I had the proper balls to do it. But Yak have a miraculous way of making you recover your faith in second-times when you thought you’d lost it forever, just like an unexpected new lover makes you a fervent believer all over again.

Pursuit of Momentary Happiness is neither a mere regurgitation of Alas Salvation, nor does it send the band in a completely new direction altogether — instead, it showcases a steady yet unhurried matureness emanating from Oli Burslem’s bittersweet Iggy-meets-Lou vocals (he is indeed a talented crooner, and ‘Words Fail Me’ is one of the most romantic tunes I’ve heard recently) and the overall tight sonic deliver that ultimately allows for a détente of the listener, who in their turn realises they needn’t be afraid to find any uncomfortable gaps.

Yak yet again confirm their music exists in a perfect paradox that englobes the apparent recklessness rock’n’roll feeds on and a complete and meticulous control over the way it is finalised and delivered. Thank you for this, you guys.

Originally published at

Paris-based trilingual music journalist. fingers in other pies include film, psychology, history, politics, social dynamics, gender issues, tarot and astrology.