Yard Act have shared a new single called ‘When The Laughter Stops’ featuring Katy J Pearson – check out the video below.
The song is the latest preview of the Leeds band’s second album ‘Where’s My Utopia?’, which is due for release on March 1 via Island (pre-order/pre-save here).
“The sentiment of the lyrics gets to the heart of ‘Where’s My Utopia?’ almost immediately, and finds the cynicism first spawned from the same circumstance I found myself in during [2023 track] ‘Dream Job’ now giving way to a more genuine sliver of misery,” explained frontman James Smith.
“Fortunately – spoiler alert – I’ve managed to find a way out of this pit, for the time being.”
He continued: “Whilst the lyrics came quick, musically it went through the wringer. As is often the case when Ryan [Needham, bass] presents a bassline, harmonically it’s pretty ambiguous and we all hear things differently.
“I was hearing the song in a pretty bluesy, minor key, whilst Sam [Shjipstone, guitar] heard a very saccharine and sweet major key tune.”
Smith went on to say that ‘When The Laughter Stops’ then “pedalled back and forth”, with Yard Act using ‘Lovefool’ by The Cardigans as a reference point “quite a lot” during the writing process.
“During a recording session in Kettering with Russ Russell at Parlour Studios in December 2022, I was fucking about on a Roland Juno with the arpeggiator whirring away over the end,” he added.
“Ryan flipped the rate so it went half-time and all of a sudden the eeriness of the track made sense; it sounded like some John Carpenter doomsday clock countdown or
“Sam reworked the guitars to sound like ‘High Voltage’ by Electric Six and we stripped away the funkier percussion and made the rhythm more aggressive, like ‘Seven Nation Army’.”
Smith recalled how Pearson joined the project at Metropolis Studios in London where she recorded the chorus vocals and gave the single “a huge lift I’ll never have the voice for”. “She’s fantastic,” he said of the singer-songwriter.
“I asked David Thewlis to recite Macbeth over the end for obvious reasons. The results speak for themselves!”
In an accompanying music video, Yard Act portray a group of clowns who have been banged up behind bars. The visuals, directed by collaborator James Slater, follow on from the events of the ‘Petroleum’ video – which saw ‘The Visitor’ character being dragged off by a couple of hitmen.
Slater explained: “‘When The Laughter Stops’ reveals her fate… a prison full of old circus performers. Security is admittedly a little loose so all may not be lost.
“The videos we’ve made have all been part of a wider Yard Act cinematic universe and we’re in the process of turning the whole thing into a movie. Watch this space.”
Speaking to NME last October, frontman Smith spoke about teaming up with Pearson on Yard Act’s upcoming album. “We’ve collaborated with Katy live a few times and we did a remix of her song ‘Miracle’ a while back,” he said.
“Whenever we found ourselves on the same festival bill, she’s joined us for covers and stuff on stage. We came out around a similar time and we just get on and always said we’d do something.
“We had this song with this hook that I just couldn’t quite hit right, and we all agreed that Katy would be the best person for it.”
Smith added: “I’ve been a fan of Katy since the start. It was a pleasure and privilege to finally get to work with her, and she’s lifted that track above and beyond.”
As for the overall message of ‘Where’s My Utopia?’, he told NME: “It’s about hope and perseverance. A lot of what we’ve always done has been rooted in where society is at and a comment on the times, but it’s more universal.”
Yard Act are set to tour in the UK/Ireland, Europe and North America this year. They’ll play a huge outdoor homecoming show at Millennium Square in Leeds on August 3. Find any remaining tickets (UK/Ireland) here.