Yonaka – ‘Seize The Power’

By Ellie Odurny

Brighton four-piece Yonaka haven’t really stopped since releasing debut album ‘Don’t Wait ‘Til Tomorrow’ back in 2019. Throughout the enforced break to touring, they’ve been busy writing a lot of new material and played both the May and December stay-at-home Five4FiveFest days in support of the Music Venue Trust’s #SaveOurVenues campaign in 2020. Most recently, they played to thousands of eager fans at the Download Pilot held in June, with fans clearly hungry for new material as the vinyl pre-order for self-produced mixtape ‘Seize The Power’ sold out in just 90 minutes. With four of the eight tracks already released, the full collection of new songs is dropping on 15th July, marking a new chapter for the band and a taste of what’s to come.

‘Ordinary’ opens with a simple piano line and Theresa Jarvis’s trademark clean yet powerful vocals. The track adds guitars and drums building to a big chorus, with additional touches of electronica displaying the care the band have taken to finesse the production on this release. The deep synth and more pop-like feel of ‘Get Out’ are probably most similar in sound to Yonaka’s previous output, along with the subtle harmonies and giant, anthemic chorus of ‘Raise Your Glass’, which is sure to be a crowd pleaser at live shows in the hopefully not-too-distant future.

There’s a sense of angry defiance scattered throughout this eight-track mixtape, with the lyrics concentrating on self-expression, strength, and empowerment. It’s a more outward looking collection of songs compared to their debut release, which was more introspective, dealing with themes of mental health from a much more vulnerable place. The way their musical style has developed echoes this move towards a more confident, assertive attitude, with impassioned spoken word sections peppered through the record on ‘Seize the Power’, ‘Clique’, and ‘Greedy’.

It seems that collaborations with other artists are very much the done thing at the moment, and this mixtape isn’t short on guests. Fever 333’s Jason Aalon Butler lends his vocals to ‘Clique’, with Barns Courtney contributing to closing track ‘Anthem’. The two are starkly different in style, but both complement their respective tracks effectively; Butler with the visceral, energetic rejection of society’s expectations and Courtney with a gentler tone, lending beautiful harmonies and a sensitivity to close out the mixtape.

The haunting but punchy melody of penultimate track ‘Call Me a Saint’, laid over a strong electro beat, displays slickly produced dynamics that aren’t always present in every track. The marching beat and emboldened lyricism of title track ‘Seize the Power’ feels like they never quite reach the summit of what starts out as a promising, energetic anthem – the intent is there, but it lacks the punch that seems to be building throughout. Likewise, the effect-heavy ‘Greedy’ feels a little lacklustre at times, with the pace never quite peaking or troughing enough to create the contrast needed for a really impactful mix.

That being said, this is a new direction for the band and, as with any musical experimentation, time is required for adjustment and growth. They have reportedly written around 80 tracks over lockdown and they’re keen to keep putting out new material, so it’ll be interesting to see what comes next for Yonaka.

ELLIE ODURNY

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