Like pensive clouds crawling over a dramatic landscape, Bill Ryder-Jones' songs take time to develop, scattering their various moods and tones along the way. Over the course of three previous solo outings, film scores, and myriad production projects, the mercurial British singer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist has honed his mix of rainy day jangle pop and classical influences, producing works of warm sophistication often beset by stormy weather. For the most part, Yawn, his fourth solo release since leaving his post as lead guitarist for the Coral, picks up where 2016's excellent West Kirby County Primary left off, concerning itself with matters of deep self-reflection while gazing just far enough outward to capture the scenes, events, and people existing in Ryder-Jones' penumbra. Recorded, produced, and largely performed alone at his home studio, Yawn takes the form of gently melodic and sometimes noisy slowcore guitar rock, its slow dreamy grooves punctuated with squalls of distortion and grainy textures. Most of the songs extend beyond the five-minute mark with several exceeding six. Standouts like the gorgeously building "Don't Be Scared, I Love You" and the ethereal "No One's Trying to Kill You" are fine examples of the kind of weary world-building that Ryder-Jones does best. Rarely sung above a cracked whisper nor boasting a raised tempo even for the sake of variety, Yawn unfortunately suffers from its creator's steadfast refusal to exist in any mode but slow and sad. While it's true, this could be said for some of his earlier work -- there was enough movement, detail, and rough-hewn beauty woven in to reward listeners for enduring the more challenging bits. Yawn, too, has its moments of beauty and craft, but the payoffs are so subtle and slow to arrive that its title becomes the regrettably inevitable reaction.
AllMusic Review by Timothy Monger