Oh, Yuck So Much Light
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- 1New Game00:14
- 2Little Fanfare03:01
- 3Full Body Mirror03:29
- 4Love That Never Fades03:17
- 5Stomping Ground03:16
- 6Be Afraid03:32
- 7Idiot Soul02:01
- 8Artificial Sweeteners03:32
- 10Deep Down03:38
- 11Ultra Sunrise01:32
- 13Game Over00:36
- 14Let It Absorb You05:11
Info for Oh, Yuck
In a small suburban bedroom, So Much Light was born, an amalgam of man and character, story and history, natural and manipulated. Using his voice as a tool for progress, Verrett effectively pushes the boundaries of what pop music should sound like--and what it should say. Combining Drake’s vulnerability, the vocal affectation of The Weeknd and Jack Antonoff’s musical production prowess, Verrett created a socially conscious full-length debut, Oh, Yuck.
Utilizing both acoustic and electronic sounds, Oh, Yuck is wrought with textural soundscapes grounded by programmed orchestral compositions, sprightly guitar lines and thrashing drums. Lyrically, Verrett puts traditional R&B tropes in a funhouse mirror and warps the genre’s bravado into a parody of itself.
„Damien Verrett’s latest effort as So Much Light is a true wonder of indie synth-pop. Filtering mainstream pop through his unique instrumentation and imagination, he makes something worthy of top 40 play but so much more at the same time. While it does run into a few eccentric fall backs and stumbling moments, the clever sound and overall delivery will have you excited for his follow up and future collaborations.
With a swell of harps and trumpets, “New Game” offers a stripped back take on the loops of “Little Fanfare.” Coming in with a more brash take, “Little Fanfare” electrifies each instrument, while offering dirty distorted guitars that shriek endlessly. The pop vocals dance around the blend of fuzz and light electronica for a track that’s as elegant as it is suave.
Fast but poppy, “Full Body Mirror” pops along with a light flicker as Verrett rides the waves of instrumentation sensually. The mix of xylophones and woodwinds come together for a uniquely classic sounding backing that feels as modern pop as it does vintage. Mixing parts of electronic pop with tones of Mother Mother, “Love That Never Fades” has a rising mood that keeps the emotion constantly high. The high soaring notes cut through the empty breaks powerfully, just as the tumbling bridge hooks listeners back in.
“Stomping Ground” takes a bit, but flies thanks to delicious vocal lines that lift some of the more bland backing track. The wubbing chorus keys also provide a sharp contrast that makes the vocal hooks even more exciting. On a starkly recorded synth line, “Be Afraid” has both corny and creepy tones that fit its darker themes, as well as making it all stand out. The dense backgrounds keep the extremely barebones verses from dragging too much as well.
Slowing down for a spell, “Idiot Soul” shuffles along on loose harmonies and meandering beats. While a little too hushed the vocals moments and mood the track creates are worth the break. A tad repetitive, “Artificial Sweeteners” has a delightful refrain that makes its constant looping more of a joy. It’s mix of shredding guitars and old school R&B grooves also flesh out the mood more.
On massive synth sounds, ” Summoner” purrs under a sparse and robotic tick. The free flow of the vocals, matched with the unique use of vocal samples stand out more than the rest of the production however. “Deep Down” pushes its vocal harmonies over loose piano chords while dissonant electronic lines sparkle through the background. Passing like an interlude “Ultra Sunrise” glows thanks to its simple flute melody, carried by an elegant piano line. After a mix of vintage-tinged pop, the moment of class is beautifully serene break.
“Flagship” flows through a wash of synths and flutes, with creaking sounds and distant beeps to fill out the tone. While the lack of bursting chorus moments leaves something small lacking, the much subtler extended bridges are serene in their own right. Wrapping up the game theme, “Game Over” carries a delicate sense of closure and frailty in its brief but touching strings, both video game-esque and deeply cinematic. “Let It Absorb You” rolls on an enveloping mix of synths and a hook that is both melodically and sonically perfect. The dense pop push of the track flows with utterly entrancing mix of sound and artistry making for a perfect pop song that never feels overstated.
Utilizing both organic and electronic sounds, Oh, Yuck is wrought with textural soundscapes grounded by programmed orchestral compositions, sprightly guitar lines and thrashing drums--productions that are never overambitious or dense, but purposeful with each synth layer, each woodwind arrangement. “Stomping Ground” builds off of a dexterous guitar riff, displaying Verrett’s skill as a seasoned math rock guitarist. Lyrically, Verrett puts traditional R&B tropes in a funhouse mirror and warps the genre’s bravado into a parody of itself, displayed on “Idiot Soul,” a sultry and sulking mid-album track that presents an entitled antagonist toying with romantic interests.
While heavily influenced by a range of musical styles, including progressive rock, Oh, Yuck is grounded by an R&B stronghold. But all the while, Verrett’s relationship with the genre has been one of complication. After an elementary school education in saxophone, Verrett picked up guitar in adolescence at 12-years-old, beginning with lessons from his father, who played in Rhythm and Blues bands, and eventually teaching himself Led Zeppelin, Metallica and Iron Maiden solos. Two years later, he turned his interests toward electronic music, creating note-for-note recreations of video game soundtracks. Though a good foundation for his technical skill, Verrett found more of an emotional connection in R&B, especially R. Kelly.
“It’s funny, I have sort of a hard time admitting that I’m an R. Kelly fan,” Verrett says. “Content-wise, I started to realize how toxically masculine so much of that music was. The vibe felt right but when you started to pick the ideas apart, it’s so propped up on bravado and machismo and all these things that I’ve never really identified with.”
With that in mind, he set out to create music that achieved both sensuality and propelled a positive-leaning message; to be a new brand of socially conscious artist.
“People think of Drake as being this vulnerable figure but you start picking apart the content: He’s worried people aren't giving him his due credit and he’s worried people aren’t aware of his come-up,” Verrett muses. “That’s not really vulnerability. It’s a step forward from something like R. Kelly, which is dyed-in-the-wool misogynistic but it’s still not the opposite of that. I want to be the opposite of that.”
The lyrics and themes on Oh, Yuck serve as a foil to the composition’s seduction and lushness. On “Summoner,” Verrett addresses the perception of “other” in terms of urban living: “I feel all kinds of pathetic when I’m asking for directions / My luck has never been good / I’ve never been so scared of a neighborhood,” he sings. Turning the male gaze inward, “Full Body Mirror” creates a dialogue hinged on the protagonist's own physical objectification. Elsewhere, on “Be Afraid,” a song that encapsulates the blind faith and hysteria surrounding Trump’s election, Verrett utilizes a cheering crowd track, an idea he credits to a Grimes interview. “The character is saying I’m literally a monster, be afraid and meanwhile this crowd is so enraptured with this idea: we love that, telling it how it is.”
Despite the political inspirations on “Be Afraid,” much of the album was written between 2012 and 2016 following Verrett’s graduation from University of California, Davis. In his bedroom at his parents’ house, not far from Sacramento, he’d tinker on his computer, creating productions based on the sounds he’d imagine in his head. He’d learned in his early teens to think beyond the traditional guitar-bass-drum sonic palette and realized sometimes what a song was lacking was perhaps a flute tone or a lush manipulated piano chord progression. Layer by layer, sound by sound, Verrett would build each composition from a concept in his own imagination to an audible reality.
Lyrics would come later, an equally time consuming process. Sitting in his closet with a microphone, he’d record his vocals with many of these takes utilized on final Oh, Yuck mixes. Only some of the vocals and live instrumentals were re-recorded in a studio in Omaha. But it was in his room, wondering what it was he “should” be doing with his life, that Oh, Yuck was born.
His parents, meanwhile, were supportive of their son’s craft, enabling him to experiment freely without judgment. Verrett’s father, who grew up performing with his brothers, always encouraged him to pursue music. In a small suburban bedroom, So Much Light was born, an amalgam of man and character, story and history, natural and manipulated. Using his voice as a tool for progress, Verrett effectively pushes the boundaries for what pop music should sound like--and what it should say.
“I think the climate we’re in is calling people to action, both personally and artistically, I think I’m more aware that a silent voice is a wasted one.”
This album contains no booklet.