On its latest release, Pittsburgh’s YRS sets familiar human struggles against a far-out backdrop | Music Features | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

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On its latest release, Pittsburgh’s YRS sets familiar human struggles against a far-out backdrop

“The space metaphor was a literal metaphor for isolation. I felt distant and far away from what was happening and everything in my life at the time.”

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YRS is a band that weaves dreamy, fuzz-drenched pop instrumentation with carefully connected, thoughtful lyrical themes. The Pittsburgh-based group’s debut full-length Through Time & Space I Will (Have No)(Hold Your) Place is a tumultuous journey about the self-doubt that accompanies relationship struggles. The lyrics tell of the troubles, occurring in a dream-like outer-space setting. 

“The space metaphor was a literal metaphor for isolation. I felt distant and far away from what was happening and everything in my life at the time,” says Brady Lanzendorfer, the primary songwriter behind YRS.

As the relationship at the center of the album collapses, it feels as enormous as planets falling out of orbit. Even at the record’s brattiest moments, the gloom and heartbreak is audible. All 14 tracks on the LP are intensely personal and consciously crafted, and to deny that the narrative material of Through Time & Space could make for a devastating indie film would be a sin. There are moments of campiness and raw transitions, but these suit the honesty and confessional nature of the effort. 

These days, Lanzendorfer laughs about the album’s subject. “It’s just a glorified break-up album,” he jokes over the phone. 

“I wear my emotions on my sleeve,” he says. “I had a rule where I wouldn’t write any lyric I wouldn’t say out loud.”

That’s where YRS shines, in the balance between lyrics like, “Kickflip, bong rip, swap spit, I’m over it,” and “So this is me turning off my phone / And this will probably be my last drive home / And this is me realizing why I’m alone.”

“It was how I was balancing it in real life. Bad things were happening, but I was trying to have a sense of humor about it,” says Lanzendorfer.

The first time I heard “Daphne & the Gravemouth,” the fourth track on the record, was more than three years ago, in the parking lot of a Greensburg café during a tiny arts festival. Lanzendorfer was performing solo, and each lyric came through crystal clear. It yanked at something in me that I can’t place, but I felt moved to tears. The riffs oozed pop, but the words expressed a deep, dark sadness, like the disconcerting, quiet infinity of space. 

After years of performing the album’s songs solo, Lanzendorfer is now accompanied by drummer David Varlotto, guitarist Ricky Petticord and recently rejoined bassist Doug Harshberger. Lanzendorfer plays guitar and QChord (a kind of digital guitar/keyboard hybrid) and sings. 

Lanzendorfer initially intended to make the cassette tapes himself, but as the release of their mostly self-recorded album approached, Varlotto suggested that Lanzendorfer send the album to Josh Clark of Head2Wall Records, a small but well-regarded label based out of Columbus, Ohio.

Although the turnaround would have to be almost unreasonably quick — it was March and the release was planned for May — Clark was more than happy to accommodate.

“I’m eternally grateful,” Lanzendorfer says, “because he was more than hospitable to us and made us feel like he cared about it as much as we did.”


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