The Yawpers, Human Question (Bloodshot Records, 2019)

The title track to the Denver-based Yawpers new album, Human Question, begins with a guitar riff that sounds reminiscent of FIDLAR’s party rocker tune, “Cocaine.” A sinister beat sizzles just under the surface, threatening to go off the rails at any moment. The drums and a second guitar add to the mix, and I was fully prepared for an adrenaline spike as the vocals began. But then the Yawpers do something surprising. The song doesn’t explode—instead, it chugs along while singer Nate Cook croons questions about human nature that probably don’t have any answer. 

That moment was surprisingly representative of the rest of the garage rock band’s new album: full of surprises and exceedingly entertaining.

Depending on the song on the 10-track effort, the Yawpers alternate between beer-chugging party anthems, soulful pleas, and even some James Brown-reminiscent grunting and shouting R&B.

The best part of it is how well it all works together—the Yawpers are showing themselves to be masters of their craft and their myriad influences. Against the odds, their searing garage rock works very well alongside quiet and reflective tracks, and sometimes the two worlds exist even in the same song.

The Yawpers push themselves for greatness on this record, where they have already proven themselves journeymen of the guitar riff and raucous shows. Halfway through the album on “Earn Your Heaven,” a galloping drum beat holds up a driving guitar line while Nate Cook sings cheeky lines like, “It’s a study in solitude and I’m the only one enrolled.” The song gets funkier and funkier with Cook’s attitude spilling over before the whole thing explodes into what sounds like an onstage call-out to fans introducing them to the crucifixion of Harry Connick Jr. The remaining minute and a half blasts towards the finish line with the band repeating the name of the song and finally screaming “Goddamn!”

As their listener comes down from those phenomenal highs, the Yawpers sneak in their actual best point on the album, the contemplative “Carry Me.” Cook’s voice wavers in and out on the choruses of the lonely track while the music plays like a doo-wop song for drunk twentysomethings having the worst night of their life.

Photo: Michael Passman

With very few low points other than taking a track or two to really get going, Human Question guides its listener through a hell of an experience. Drawing from garage rock, blues, folk, '60s pop, and more, the Yawpers have put together one of the best releases we’ll see, as well as one of the most mature and fully-realized rock and roll albums this year.

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