Not all nineteen year olds start their summer off with debuting a hyped up first LP, but Dominic Harrison, known as YUNGBLUD, sure has. July 6th of 2018, 21st Century Liability dropped online and in its first weekend has already been in the top 100 on iTunes in Canada, Germany, and Belgium. He’s been noticed for his track on the controversial “13 Reasons Why” soundtrack “Falling Skies.”
Right off the bat from the album artwork, we see Yungblud in a straightjacket, giving a Billy Idol lip tug with a mean stare and hair that stands tall like it got electrocuted. It gives the impression that this is a guy who cannot be contained. The image boasts a loud persona.
Diving in to the album, we are greeted by a “Eulogy” (as the song is titled) which is ironic for a “beginning” song. His lyrics state that this person, or himself, “-just didn’t give a fuck really / For the politicians killed him / He spoke far too loud.” We get the sense that the initial feeling of a “loud persona” is a reality. And there is humour too.
Following the eulogy, Yungblud questions, “tell me did I just die?” The album is taking an afterlife narrative. But later on Doctor Doctor, we learn he is in an asylum asking for a “lobotomy” to “be stupid” to relieve his mental distress. The first couple song follow similar patterns and one can be mistaken as another. They have a guitar melody, same lyrical themes of a mentally unstable kid questioning his life, and similar build ups to choruses. His attitude is amplified by his accent and snarky lyrics.
Machine Gun (F**k The NRA) is a scary or shocking situation for some. It’s Yungblud imagining the inner monologue of a killer who “hurt his friends” and got taken away to check his mental state. It’s clearly a commentary on the recent state of America and how when a mass shooter is taken into custody, they usually screen for mental instability. In this story, “They looked inside my brain/ Turns out I’m not okay.” and “they confirmed” Yungblud is mentally unwell. The second verse is also kind of scary and potentially triggering for people sensitive to suicidal tendencies. He describes drinking lemonade laced with bleach and “eating a razorblade, just for attention’s sake.” This song is a lot of shock value and not a particular stand out sound-wise, following the patterns of the last two songs.
Psychotic Kids takes the album to a quieter tone and where the album gets more interesting and less repetitive. The themes of dwindling mental health is still prevalent. Then on “I Love You, Will You Marry Me” we get a much less electronic track which is stands out from the first tracks. It has early Arctic Monkeys mixed with ska vibe. Then on a (slightly) lighter and calmer note, we get Polygraph Eyes where Yungblud pleads for a guy to not take advantage of a girl. The lighter theme vibe slowly fades away into “Kill Somebody”
By far the best track on the album arrives: California. This combines all the themes, sounds, and messages that Yungblud is trying to communicate. It’s a unique sound that is hard to describe, but it has a killer beat and easy to read lyrics. I would anticipate that this song would do really well live. This is the most “alternative rock” song and I think it works the best for Yungblud. In future projects I would hope that this sound is on future records.
In the finale we get the album title track, 21st Century Liability which is a fun, banging, and loud track. It takes huge inspiration from the Beastie Boys with its drum pattern, thrashing guitar, and alarm sounds. It was a great choice to close the album with and would be great to close a concert with.
People have been talking about Yungblud because he’s someone you can’t miss with his loud persona and provoking lyrics. This kid has a lot to say and feels strongly about things in his mind and in the world. He is unapologetic and upfront about being a mentally unstable kid. Hopefully he’s taking care of himself! Keep an eye on him world, I think if he matures over the next 5-7 years, we can expect a great sound from him.
Rating: 3 out of 5
Stand out track(s): California.