Album Review: Yoo Doo Right – Don’t Think You Can Escape Your Purpose

[Mothland; 2021]

Within a millisecond, glass flies, horns blare, blood is shed, and skin is broken. The sudden implosion of nylon bludgeons your face; a bulbous bag drawing more red than you imagined. The smell of iron reminds you of all the pain you once experienced in your life, both physical and emotional. In that very moment, all memories compound into a whip-fast flashbang. No, this is not a car crash; this is what happens when listening to the walls of sound constructed by cinematic noise-makers yoo doo right.

Purveyors of devastation, this gloom-embracing trio comprised of Justin Cober (guitar, synthesizers, vocals), Charles Masson (bass), and John Talbot (drums, percussions) liken their sound to “a car crash in slow motion” – a descriptor that’d make any music journalist shiver with joy. yoo doo right’s words hold truth, as they surgically fuse cliff-overlooking post-rock with the noise-shrouded chaos of shoegaze and the pulverizing inertia of Krautrock. It’s an uncompromising concoction of orchestrated chaos, but one that makes their full-length debut Don’t Think You Can Escape Your Purpose a multi-car pile-up in the wait – albeit one you can’t help but stand and watch in amazement. This sonic wreck, however, is observed with a director’s eye – acute precision and a push and pull approach that leaves audiences in reverence as they tumble through the wreckage of this album. It’s very similar to how certain other post-rock bands from Canada are able to contort their listeners.

Like fellow Canadians Godspeed You! Black Emperor and Fly Pan Am, this emerging trio builds their songs into sky-scraping monstrosities that are almost too intimidating to behold. This is a lofty and daunting comparison considering this is just the band’s debut full-length, but yoo doo right assume the enormities of life with a sound that is daunting in and of itself, despite their youth. This is why Don’t Think You Can Escape Your Purpose is the behemoth that should take the band’s notoriety beyond their scene’s borders.

Within a three-month span that has seen has seen the aforementioned legends of GY! BE return to form with G_d’s Pee AT STATE’S END! and Fly Pan Am reemerge with a new record, yoo doo right are right there, cementing themselves as firm colleagues of those legends. But their debut is more curious than what we’ve come to expect from Canadian post-rock. Within a scene that venerates its pillars, and for good reason, it’s reasonable to ponder whether or not it’s worth it to try and push the boundaries of its touchstones. Bands like GY!BE and Fly Pan Am are by no means regressive or even stagnant. Still, yoo doo right are thrusting Canadian post-rock into a new dimension while pulling from different styles along the way.

In fact, Krautrock plays a heavy part, which should be no surprise if you’ve noticed the band’s name by now – this promising trio boldly carries the same title as the closing track off from CAN’s legendary 1969 debut album, Monster Movie. Now, yoo doo right’s music is hardly akin to the twisting and winding CAN track, but they channel Krautrock’s motorik and psychedelic qualities via short, thrilling bursts that throb and pulsate through galactic realms of shoegaze, rather than ceaselessly maintaining the same groove for 20 hypnotic minutes. 

There are moments on Don’t Think You Can Escape Your Purpose that lean further into one genre more others, but post-rock is the name of their game. Album opener “A Certain Sense of Disenchantment”, for example, is a by-the-numbers but beautifully stirring intro that dares its audience to listen further, while closer “Black Moth” is a colossal destroyer of worlds. On “1N914”, the band’s intense and grandiose mix of post-rock and Krautrock is put on full display as we’re drawn asunder by a percussive intensity that doesn’t let up and distorted guitars that barge their way in whenever possible. Here, yoo doo right maintain a vague improvised spirit that keeps the album and listeners in motion.

“The Moral Compass Of A Self-Driving Car” operates with the same guiding hand; it’s laced with Krautrock grooves that inject the track with replayability, while a faint air of compositional nuance keeps it tied to the band’s post-rock core as they explore the expanses of what is possible with extreme dynamics. For the majority of “The Moral Compass Of A Slef-Driving Car”, listeners are driven along, steadily, across a paved road of unchanging bass, soft synth keys, and steady hypnotic drum shuffles. But as yoo doo right’s affinity toward shoegaze slowly makes its way into the picture with swelling feedback, listeners are suddenly driven off the road and into a valley 70 feet below. It’s easy to assume that you didn’t survive the fall into a pit of certain death.

But you’re mistaken; those who embark on this hypnotic trek of a record will make it out alive. Well, kind of. In reality, you enter another level of post-rock hell, another layer into yoo doo right’s swimmingly arcane world that grows and materializes like dark matter. At the core of this genre-blending underworld is title track “Don’t Think You Can Escape Your Purpose”. With a title that functions as an ominous warning sign, the track is made even more frightening as Cober undergirds near six minutes of ceremonial drums and cavernous guitar swells with a crestfallen tone that laments the reality of his insignificance. Listeners will feel equally insignificant and small as they endure the track’s oppressive walls of sludgy sound that begin to crack and crumble at the halfway mark. As its closing seconds near, those who’ve survived the track’s hot blade-wielding nature thus far are then pummeled by guitars roaring like crashing waves and unnervingly bright horns bathed in kerosene, lit aflame by the unrelenting nature of Talbot’s drumming.

“Don’t Think You Can Escape Your Purpose” is truly an unfathomable six minutes, a vividly apocalyptic post-rock experience that can only be likened to what Swans managed to accomplish in their 2010s output. With hues of Krautrock and shoegaze beneath the song’s bellowing sonics, this track feels like the future of what yoo doo right is pushing towards. Whether or not the up-and-coming band from Montreal can achieve this intensity for the duration of a full album is an exciting prospect to entertain. Still, Don’t Think You Can Escape Your Purpose in its entirety is a damn good precursor to what is possible.