Yard Act: “Dream Job”

What’s it like to be a musician now? In an era when Spotify leeches more and more from struggling artists and seemingly every day a new AI platform threatens to steal your job, the best that Yard Act frontman James Smith can muster is this: “It’s all right.”

Whereas 2022’s The Overload stuck to speedy British post-punk, the Leeds band’s new single creeps forward like a looser, undoubtedly more pessimistic version of Ian Dury and the Blockheads’ “Reasons to Be Cheerful, Pt. 3,” complete with a swaggering bassline, hand-claps, and shouted British slang. Smith spends the first two verses spouting criticisms of the music industry and his own complicity (“I place a bet on a game knowing no one will score”). Then in the chorus, he does an about-face, struggling to convince himself everything’s great: “Just look at my face! I’m on top of the world!” An airtight guitar solo offers a moment of reprieve from his spiraling, but Smith eventually succumbs to fatality: “Welcome to the future, the paranoia suits ya.” The jaunty, funk-pop production only makes the band’s commentary seem all the more biting.