You can’t spell YUNGBLUD without “U!” Doncaster, UK’s Dominic Harrison breathes new life into modern rock and roll as a beacon of individuality and creativity for deviants and misfits alike. His latest full-length project, weird! takes listeners on a personal journey through grief, self-exploration, and growing pains with a quintessential spirit of grit and edge. His debut LP, 21st Century Liability (2018) previously solidified his stance as an alternative powerhouse preaching quirkiness and spunk; all the same, weird! serves as an ode to mavericks of the abnormal. “If you don’t f*cking know who you are, be proud of it,” YUNGBLUD affirms of the sonic diary.
The 13-track collective reflects ideologies textbook to music’s most legendary eccentric icons from David Bowie to Lady Gaga and Marilyn Manson. Given the accomplished trajectory of his discography thus far, it’s as though he’s carefully plucked the best assets of iconic musical artists to create the effervescent, engaging persona that is YUNGBLUD.
The 23-year-old is known for his unkempt, ever-changing dyed hair, gender-fluidity, over-the-top personality, and unapologetic fearlessness. From social media to the covers of magazines, he can be found wearing lipstick and dresses just as often as he wears ripped black jeans and a leather jacket. “Boxes are for cereal, not for human beings,” he asserts. Fundamentally, YUNGBLUD isn’t just a rebel, he defines what it means to break boundaries.
Amidst the chaos surrounding the character of YUNGBLUD is an unexpected sense of unity. For his most dedicated followers, weird! comes as the much-needed anthology of trust, acceptance, and discovery curing the 2020 woes. Despite the intimate touches tying each song to one another like a sonic string, YUNGBLUD’s made it clear that this weird! is not his release – it’s yours.
At the crux of the project: authenticity (evident from track one, “teresa”– a homage to the passing of a fan’s boyfriend – through the final lyrics of track 13, “I will spend my life believing in you”). If anything, YUNGBLUD is Gen-Z’s rendition of the phenomenon that is Gerard Way. Akin to a My Chemical Romance era, where normalcy ends, the rock show begins.
We stereotypically know the singer as the canonic epitome of grunge but find him on the album cover dressed as a tailor-made schoolboy and a bubblegum cutie in a lacy skirt with Mary Janes. If weird! is a marriage between finding both rebellion and originality, its visuals flawlessly parallel the diverse facets of the many million YUNGBLUD listeners. After mastering relatability and amassing a loyalist fanbase of followers equally as whimsical as he is, it’s clear we’re witnessing the rise of the most influential voice in music for the young era.
Previous single and album standout “mars” is likely the most commercially ready body of work capable of edging Top 40 charts on a global scale. It’s a somewhat painful ode to feeling out of touch while simultaneously serving as a therapeutic hug worthy of being an antidote to loneliness. This essence of catharsis rings true for the remaining 12 songs on the roster – and the timing couldn’t be better.
Title track “weird” encapsulates the peculiar aura of quarantining amid a global pandemic within a 3-minute framework. COVID-19 has become a universal experience transcending the bounds of race, age, and location. “We’re in a weird time of life,” he bellows on the song. Ain’t that the truth, but we’re all in this together. The album’s final number, “the freak show,” may be the true star of the project. It wouldn’t feel like an authentic YUNGBLUD venture without a message of empowerment, and the track is the ultimate amalgamation of everything we love about the psyche of the lawless artist: honesty, individuality, and pure chaos. Thank you, Dom, for inviting us to scream away our worries and find solace in your lyrics. Sing it with us! “Welcome to the freak show, I hope that you find yourself today!”
As a unit, weird! is a uniquely polarizing contrast of constant tempo shifts and mood varieties. From ballads like “love song” to punk jams akin to “strawberry lipstick,” you’ll be laughing, crying, and moshing as one track finishes and another begins. YUNGBLUD has proven himself as more than a vocalist, he’s a movement providing a voice to those who may otherwise feel silenced by uncertainty and fear. For a generation embracing their sexuality, gender, and quirks with more gusto than ever before, we can thank YUNGBLUD for pioneering a youthful revolution.