Words: Thomas Stichbury
If Mick Jagger, My Chemical Romance’s Gerard Way and a Cabbage Patch doll had a love child, Yungblud would be the resulting creation.
With his playful pout, chipped nail polish and gender-fookin’ dress sense, the cherub-faced hellraiser has become the poster boy for misfits everywhere, throwing the proverbial mic stand at rules and societal norms.
The Doncaster lad’s black heart emoji-toting fans have anointed themselves the Yungblud Army – and after listening to his sophomore album, Weird! (out now), we are more than happy to fall in line and, ahem, stand to attention.
Yungblud’s follow-up to 2018’s 21st-Century Liability (and last year’s EP, the underrated youth) comes as a welcome shock to the system, lobbing a stick of dynamite under the current music trend for meepy mid-tempo tunes that rarely rise above a resting heartbeat, applying an adrenaline shot to the old ticker.
Like many of his peers, though, Yungblud, aka Dominic Harrison, appears to have a vendetta against the use of capital letters…
The emo-drenched record is propelled by pounding drums and shrieking guitars, no more so than on Yungblud’s bread and butter: larynx-eviscerating anthems marinaded in door-slamming “no one understands me” angst, designed for the mosh pit – or, these days, to stomp around your bedroom to.
Album closer ‘freak show’ (how rebellious to begin at the end) is a ‘Welcome to the Black Parade’ for generation Z. “They will try to break you ‘cause they are so ashamed of you, but hold on, hold on,” he rails.
While Yungblud got his first taste of fame on a Disney TV show, there is no sense of sheen or superficiality, as he lets rip with raw, cracked vocals and give-that-man-a-lozenge cries on ‘god save me but don’t drown me out’, addressing the mental health crisis, and ‘superdeadfriends’: “When you’re making a baby in missionary, be prepared to accept them for what they’re going to be.”
Earlier this week, the 23-year-old received our Gamechanger Award at the Attitude Awards, and in his Attitude Award issue cover interview - out now to download and to order globally - he opens up about being pansexual and polyamorous and identifying as part of the LGBTQ community – that sexual liberation flows through the fittingly moreish ‘cotton candy’: “I’m losing myself in you, in you, in you.”
However, it is the gentler tracks that land the emotional punches, as the latex-clad swagger gives way to a piercing tenderness. Like ‘love story’, about his upbringing and how his perceptions of what love is – and, indeed, can be – has changed.
“All I knew growing up was that love chewed me up, spit me out on the pavement next to the cuts and the blood that my mum and dad would always take out on the other,” he muses.
The piece de resistance is Yungblud’s tribute to a trans fan he met at a show: “She was only seventeen, had the saddest pair of eyes that you ever seen… she can’t be herself when she’s someone else.”
That song, ‘mars’, will orbit your thoughts long after it has wrapped, further proof that this rebel with a rainbow-coloured cause may well be an out-of-this-world talent.