With the exception of Bush, the U.K.'s contribution to the early-'90s grunge scene was minimal to say the least, which makes the country's sudden influx of Seattle rock revivalists all the more surprising. Hot on the heels of debut efforts from Dinosaur Pile-Up and Yuck, London quintet Japanese Voyeurs are the latest British band attempting to bring back the days of faded jeans and flannel shirts with their unashamedly retro first offering, Yolk. Produced by Garth Richardson (L7, Melvins), its 12 tracks certainly have a pretty solid pedigree behind them, but while the scuzzy Nirvana-esque riffs of "Double Cheese" and sludgy Pearl Jam-style blues of "Get Hole" make little effort to distance themselves from the genre's pioneers, the group formerly known as Tinseltown do possess a more original secret weapon in the shape of lead singer Romily Alice, whose "butter wouldn't melt in his mouth" childlike tones provide a unique addition to the usual chugging basslines, distorted guitars, and angst-ridden lyrics formula. Indeed, it's quite startling to hear vocals more suited to pre-school singalongs than moshpit-inducing headbangers tackle such provocative lines as "I'm a masochist and I'm looking for a little fun" on the crunching riot grrl rock of "Dumb," but luckily, the band have enough up their sleeve to keep listeners on their toes once the novelty of their deceptively menacing frontwoman has worn off. "Feed" is an atmospheric stop/start number featuring the backing vocals of Dinosaur Jr.'s J Mascis, which flits effortlessly between punchy, Hole-inspired alt-rock and cello-driven balladry, "Cry Baby" is an anthemic and equally boisterous slice of skate-punk which combines thrashing guitars and an infectious pop chorus with an addictive nagging sitar riff, while the band reveal a mellower side on the subtle strings, vulnerable melodies, and spacious, echoing rhythms of the gorgeous "Heart Is a Fist." Yolk might wear its influences firmly on its sleeve, but 20 years on from the grunge sound's heyday, it still manages to bring something new to the table. Whether it will impress today's emo kids and post-hardcore fans remains to be seen, but had it been released during the era of Nevermind and Ten, then Gavin Rossdale and co.'s status as the U.K.'s biggest grunge band might just have come under threat.
AllMusic Review by Jon O'Brien