“This is a surreal moment,” says TYC’s Marcus Gooda on stage at the album launch of The Last Words That You Said To Me Have Kept Me Here And Safe. “I honestly thought we’d be playing this set to my girlfriend and a few friends,” he remarks, looking out at a crowd so large the basement venue can barely accommodate them.
There’s an intimate sense of honest vulnerability to his words: “This is our first ever full-band headline show. Took us five years.” Maybe sentimental, perhaps a touch frustrated – clearly emotional. “We’re now all adults, with jobs. And we’re too old to be playing this shit.” He waits a moment before adding, “It’s really hard.”
Whether this is in reference to the struggles of adulthood or the exhaustive technical focus of the songs they’re performing, it certainly sounds it. The Yatcht Club’s music is a deft blend of the jazzy, frentic instrumentation associated with math-rock acts like American Football, TWIABP and TTNG – and the heartstring-tugging melodic sensibility of hook driven alt-rock, like a less savage Cursive or the lush pop rock charm of the great Dinosaur Jr.
But there’s a deathly severity worn on the sleeve of the musical escapism. There’s no other way to put it: this is a record about losing someone to suicide, from the perspective of those who survive them. Gooda doesn’t want to shy away from this fact – rather it’s almost the band’s central thesis: the life-affirming transformative nature of art and music that brings together those who are struggling. “I lost my best friend to suicide. I don’t think it’s something we talk about enough,” Gooda says, “as a culture, or as a society.”
On the stripped back Be Happy & Love Pt. 2, which opens the record, he sings: “I still mention you / you’re not some bitter word I never want to say (…) I can’t hate you for it, but I can’t come to terms with what you did / remembering the unexpected pause / when I got the call.”
The song ramps up, and from here the rich instrumentation doesn’t let up until the album closes . Neither does the emotional rawness. Last Words plays out as a concept piece documenting Gooda’s emotional journey on the long road to contextualising and accepting – but not forgetting – those he’s left behind.
He chronicles moments, tying places to memories, and weaving them together with spidery guitar lines that stick in your head long after he’s stopped singing. On the bittersweet power-pop anthem Heigham Park, he tells us “Sometimes I swear I can hear you / as if you’re walking beside me again / when I make my down to Heigham Park / to the bench that reads your name/and stay awhile.”
Perhaps the most immediate comparison, at least thematically, is arguably The Hotelier, capturing that same manic anthemic energy and emotional catharsis as 2014’s Home, Like Noplace is There. The cataclysmic finality of the titular refrain on Be Happy & Love Pt 3 (the title a reference to the name of the album – “These were, pretty much, the last words he ever said to me,” Gooda remarks) has the same heartbroken poignancy of Hotelier’s Among the Wildfires. It’s a haunting reprise that toes the line between elegy and liturgy, and ultimately ends as a life-affirming plea for meaning:
“Be happy, and love.”
His words and message are as direct here as they are within The Yacht Club’s music: “if you know someone out there who’s struggling, a single phone call, or a Facebook message – or a hug – is all it takes.”
What started as Marcus Gooda’s solo outing has undergone a transformative development in the last few years. They’ve been putting out sold-out self releases since 2013, but since then they’ve been through several line-up changes as a band, with this being their first label outing, courtesy of Beth Shalom Records.
The Yacht Club was born predominantly “out of the desire for creative freedom”, and the collaborative nature of the band is evinced by the vocal trade between Gooda and Holland (the two alternate lead vocals for the songs with their own lyrics).
What really shines through is the emotive faculties of Gooda’s virtuoso guitarmanship, which when unshackled from playing vocals, provide a musical focal point to rival Holland’s tenor voice. The trade between Marcus’ lead line and Jack’s vocal presence in Postmarks is, quite simply, stellar. The track itself is quintessentially emo, with that ultra-fast noodly folk-guitar lick/climb that’s come to define so much of the emo revival scene.
Other songs have a decidedly earlier sound to them, with Glue covering the same conceptual territory of VS The Greatest of All Time by Archers of Loaf, with more melodic focus and hints of Braid’s seminal Frame & Canvas in the guitar and bass riffs.
Before plunging into the final song of the night, Be Happy & Love Pt. 3., Gooda ends his speech by saying, “This song goes out to everyone who’s here tonight, and anyone who should be here who isn’t.”
When it came time to sing the last line everyone sang along. Almost.