Ask the average guy on the street what they know about Yeasayer, and they’ll probably sing you their sing-a-long anthem ‘O.N.E’. And indeed, why not? It is without doubt a tune. In fact the whole of their album ‘Odd Blood’ pushed their profile to a brand new level. Big songs like ‘Madder Red’ and ‘Ambling Alp’ helped the band turn a corner and appeal to a whole new market. The more experimental follow up ‘Fragrant World’ took that hard work they did, in unreeling that more commercial sound. It was an underrated album, but without doubt one they had to make at the time. The Brooklyn boys have never been ones to rest on their laurels. It’s onwards and upwards. So how can Yeasayer move on from this with album number four? It is certainly less experimental than ‘Fragrant World’, and follows the more melodic route of ‘Odd Blood’. The big pop hooks are there in abundance. Never more so than on the album’s first release.
That first track is ‘I Am Chemistry’. What’s the best way to describe it? Full on bat shit crazy. It’s a melting pot of ideas, and keeps us on our toes, switching melody and tempo left, right and centre. Its huge electronic riffs seem to fit seamlessly in a way they shouldn’t with the children’s choir. It’s a great track to begin the album campaign off with. It sits comfortably after Elliot Smith-esque intro ‘Son Of Cain’ to get the album started off in style.
‘Amen & Goodbye’ twists and changes throughout its thirteen tracks. ‘Silly Me’ is an unashamedly huge catchy pop track. It’s territory they touched on previously with ‘O.N.E’. It’s a kind of music they do well, and they join in again with with a generation of artists making pop music credible again. ‘Dead Sea Scrolls’ is Yeasayer at their funkiest, whilst ‘Child Prodigy’ and ‘Half Asleep’ have an almost medieval sound to them. It is a more eclectic mix than any of their previous work, but keeps inline with the unique sound that makes them instantly recognisable.
Whilst many albums lose momentum towards the end, Yeasayer have saved a couple of gems to close proceedings with. Firstly let’s talk about ‘Uma’. Initially I was in two minds about this track. I’m not one for people singing about their kids. Normally they come out sounding sickly and unnecessary. With the lyrics ‘I hope I don’t pass down all my flaws’ and ‘I’ll miss you when you’re grown,’ it seems like this is the subject matter vocalist Chris Keating is approaching. But in the course of this track I found myself mellowing. It is heart-melting in its sentiment, and probably the coolest lullaby ever recorded by an indie band. Okay, so that’s probably a narrow genre, but props all the same. What better way to follow a song about life, than a song about death. ‘Cold Night’ is dark and tragic. A hugely personal track, that takes Yeasayer into a brave new territory. It seems a suitable end. What Yeasayer have done with this entire album is find a place they fit comfortably in.
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