Swiss duo Yello are a hive of contradictions and conundrums. Before starting the band in the late seventies, singer Dieter Meier was already a millionaire, Boris Blank had no formal musical training and was a truck driver. They consistently deliver nothing short of sonic excellence, yet are never mentioned in the same breath as Kraftwerk. They are wilfully obscure yet their sound is instantly recognisable. They look like investment bankers and are 75 and 68 years old respectively, but sound so futuristic.
This, their fourteenth studio album has all the hallmark touches of Yello, and alludes to many of their past releases. Opening track and single, ‘Waba Duba’ is eerily evocative of their biggest UK hit, ‘The Race’ with its chugging rhythm and bass-sax riff. ‘Way Down’ is deep dub sprinkled with Blade Runner synths. ‘Out of Sight’ references their biggest hit in Europe, ‘Bostisch’ even re-using the line, “I wanna see you dance”, and is awash with baritone rhymes, which although not delivered at the same breakneck speed of yore, you still wouldn’t normally equate with a man of seventy-five.
Every track is a miniature movie and a joy to the ears. Often they are at their best when they flirt with jazz, or employ their sweeping strings in a John Barry cold-war soundtrack style, as on ‘Rush For Joe’, and even a song apparently about popcorn (‘Hot Pan’) is so massively widescreen it conjures up images of convertibles careening down mountain roads. London based singer Fifi Rong, who appeared on Yello’s last album, ‘Toy’ returns on the atmospheric closer, ‘Siren Singing’. Elsewhere there are fleeting touches of balearic chill-out, latino grooves and washes of cinematic ambience that waft in and out at will.
It doesn’t deliver many surprises or raise the (already insanely high) bar much above their previous albums, but Point continues the sheer sonic mastery that is their calling card, it’s jaw-droppingly stunning. Genres like Lounge, Trip-Hop and Trance that wholly rely on their seductive aural skills in the headphone department could really use a masterclass from these two old-timers, because this is seriously another level. Maybe for all these years that’s been the point.
Point is out now on Polydor Records.