Yip Man – Braw Power
Al Nero's alter-ego tackles the pessimistic pop song
Co-running the eclectic Glasgow-based Armellodie Records is not the only thing that Al Nero has been busy with lately. The former Le Reno Amps frontman has been off on his travels, undergoing a transformation of sorts in faraway lands. As he returns from China with new inspiration and a whole heap of ideas, so too does his alter-ego Yip Man with an interesting new album in tow.
As far as alter-egos go, Nero's Yip Man doesn't quite scream evil doppelgänger in the same vein as Jekyll and Hyde. But there is a noticeably darker undertone to Braw Power, seen in the often frank and sombre writing of the tracks on the album. The synth-heavy 'Not That Easy', for example, features some peppy hand-claps but then also includes lyrics like 'there's nothing blacker than the dark matter behind my drifting eyes'. It's this contrast between the seemingly sunny disposition of the music and the apathetic tone of the lyrics that separates Nero from Yip Man in a way that highlights real creative progression.
Album opener 'Barnburner' packs a punch, setting the mood with its upbeat instrumentation and syncopated rhythms. It's unashamedly pop and saccharine-sweet in its delivery but again, the underlying tension remains, a motif that continues on in tracks like 'Crying Thunderstorms' and 'This Girl I'm Bound'. The slow-burner of the album, 'Taxi', meanwhile is quiet and dream-like, a welcomed escape from the energetic guitar pop found elsewhere. The focal point, in all its chromatic glory, is 'Stuck on Repeat', so much so that it returns as a coda at the end. In a way, it's a slightly sinister finish to the album, signifying a cycle of habits or experiences that can't be avoided.
Braw Power is essentially a homage to the undisclosed, with Yip Man succeeding in masking a sense of cynicism under the jovial optimism of the simple yet clever pop song.
Braw Power is out on Fri 11 Nov on Armellodie Records.