Roughly 10 minutes into Scam Likely‘s new album Yolk, an unexpected sound arrives: an acoustic guitar.

Huh. This is a band whose excellent 2023 debut Getting Worse was stuffed with crunchy indie-rock rocker after crunchy indie-rock rocker—with a few dream-pop detours tossed in for good measure. But there it is on the fourth track of Yolk, “Nosebleed”: an acoustic guitar. And the following track, “Rabbit,” is a tender five-minute-plus ballad. Is this a new direction for the once-noisy Milwaukee group?

Yes and no. Yes, Scam Likely has expanded its sonic palette, but no, the band remains as blisteringly pissed and mood swing-y as ever. There are indeed quieter moments here, but the noise remains the same. Yolk is a sonically diverse, highly polished, and remarkably assured sophomore album that solidifies Scam Likely as one of Milwaukee’s best working bands. It’s not a new direction—it’s a definition.

There’s a lot to love on Yolk. Opener “Hips” is Scam Likely at its most ’90s alt-rock (the “One, two, three, yeah!” count-in wouldn’t feel out of place on a Veruca Salt record), and there’s plenty of room for singer/guitarist Charlee Grider to howl one second and sneer and scream the next. “Gutterball” is a manic doom-and-gloom concoction that retains some of the grit left over from Getting Worse. Lead single “Winner,” meanwhile, is the perfect mix of chugging bass, glowering guitars, nervy drums, and terrific vocals. It stands alongside “Domestic Bliss” and “Jesus Christ, Stop Yelling I’m Right Here” as one of the group’s best songs.

Also up there: those quieter moments. “Rabbit” is positively gorgeous, a wounded and vulnerable torch song that longs for connection. (“I’ve been staying sober / You’ve been staying stoned,” Grider sings.) As for “Nosebleed,” it eventually packs away the acoustic guitar, turns up the volume, and alternately soars and stumbles to a devastating finish line.

“I’m elated to share these songs with the world,” Grider said ahead of Yolk‘s release. “Compared to our first album, we really took the time to explore our sound and expand on the musical ideas we connected over.” Consider it time well spent.

Scam Likely will celebrate the release of Yolk Saturday, April 13 at the Vivarium. Gramma and Clementine will play in support.

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Co-Founder and Editor

Matt Wild weighs between 140 and 145 pounds. He lives on Milwaukee's east side.