By Mitchell Tousley
YesterKid is an interesting band whose debut album, Endangered Species, came about in even more interesting circumstances. Composed of father-son duo Jonathon Egan and Sam Sheppard, the band’s makeup already sets them apart from other acts in the area. The album was written by the duo over Zoom, with the father tuning in from California and the son in Utah. They were able to take the odd and tragic circumstances of a world in the middle of a global pandemic and turn them into an opportunity to grow closer together.
After a lengthy and unique writing process, the two were able to meet in person to record the project at Provo’s own June Audio. Regarding the album, the duo have stated that the project “embodies and transcends the isolation, hope, and strangeness of the pandemic in which it was written.”
Endangered Species is a dynamic and engaging debut album. They combine tried-and-true song structures with unique sonic elements in each track. Lyrical realism meets harmonic optimism with songs that make you want to sing your heart out, plus a couple of interludes to sit and reflect to. The detailed instrumentals and potency of the vocals remind the listener of other great bands like Coldplay, Young the Giant, and even Bon Iver. Dreamy electric guitars, powerful pianos, driving drums, and eclectic synths all play off of each other for a listen that is as varied as it is consistent.
Each track is unique, making picking a favorite difficult, but “Shine Through” stands out the most to me. The song opens with a beautiful bed of electric guitar, strings, and synth pads. Sam delivers the lyrics of the song with raw emotion, telling it like it is in the verses: “Can’t hope when it’s hopeless, can’t cope when it’s copeless.” It makes the listener feel as if all is nearly lost, but YesterKid brings a positive spin to the struggles of mankind. “We’re broken so the light can shine through.” The lyrics leave a lot more to dissect than these few lines, but the simple message of hope in the face of struggle has its fingerprints on each stanza of this song. The instrumental is perfectly dynamic, mirroring the emotional intensity of the song with big, triumphant choruses and softer-yet-rhythmically-intricate verses to push the song forward. The track feels like a succinct thesis statement for the whole album, and showcases the band’s talents as songwriters, arrangers, and sound designers.
Endangered Species is obviously the product of a lot of hard work and fine tuning over a period of two years. It is detailed and meticulously crafted to provide the listener with an experience that is wholly fulfilling and devoid of any head-scratching moments. I would like to see YesterKid continue to expand on the sounds and themes of this album in future with some longer projects.
YesterKid displays a mature and engaging sound on their debut album. Any fan of alternative, rock and/or pop music would be wise to give this album a listen, if not many. Make sure to follow @yester_kid on Instagram. You can listen to “Shine Through” below!