Robert Bryn, frontman of Brooklyn four-piece Wild Yaks, once predictably described his band as “wild animals with big horns” – the wild yak kind, not the brass; it’s all guitar on Million Years, their latest LP. It’s still a spot-on descriptor, and here are some more: Almost every lyric on Million Years is shouted by the whole band in unison, “all-out joyful” is pretty much the only mode they know how to operate in, and they repeatedly sing a woman’s first name on two consecutive songs, “Felice” and “Anabelle”. Million Years is obviously a “fun” record, but is it not to be taken seriously?
Rest assured, Wild Yaks don’t stop to dwell on that question for a second, and end up answering it. Bryn’s band sounds like they’ve never had more fun in their lives, and they’re dead serious about it. While their endorphin-loaded sound isn’t unprecedented, they manage to draw from all the most overwhelmingly positive aspects of their musical kin: the towering, almost exclusively major-key compositions of Fang Island, the party-as-religion philosophy of Andrew WK, and the gritty psychedelia of Roky Erickson, whose “You’re Gonna Miss Me” leaves fingerprints on “Other Men” and “Golden Door”.
Million Years opens with its title track and the words “Now that I’m a million years old / I’ve seen the past and future turn so many times”. Then, the song’s tempo takes a sudden turn upward for the first time of many throughout the album. They continue, “All my friends are dead / I ain’t never had no friends.” Keep in mind, this is a band that’s endured a breakup and still has double-digit followers on Twitter. Bryn’s words are a bummer on paper, but Wild Yaks take their inherent negativity and churn it into an extreme appreciation for life that emerges from being stripped of almost everything else: youth, relationships, and relevance. And if there’s anything they irrefutably prove with that ethos on Million Years, it’s this: Never underestimate a band of aging friends with nothing to lose.
Essential Tracks: “Last Tears of the Night”, “Angel Eyes”, and “A Million Years”