Thursday, August 9, 2012

Album Review: Yeasayer - Fragrant World

Album Rating: C-
I've always liked Yeasyer, but I think it's fair to say that they're on the second tier of America's experimental pop food chain. They hold a wealth of hipster cred and a handful of crossover hits, but truthfully the Brooklyn group have always lagged some way behind the genre's true frontrunners, in terms of both ideas and their execution. What's more, they've often cut the type of band that'll inevitably fall by the wayside, achieving plenty in their time but fading fast with the advent of new innovations and trends. With that in mind, spearheading their third record with a song called "Longevity" is a hugely bold move, especially given that it effectively denounces the notion behind its title. As it happens, that risk has swiftly backfired, as the song in question essentially summarises the limitations of Yeasayer's music, with the subsequent LP inadvertently providing strong evidence to support such a theme.

Responsibility for this certainly doesn't fall with "Longevity," as it's without doubt one of Fragrant World's high points. Driven by angular synths and wonky rhythms, it was an obvious and correct choice of single, with only the silky smooth R&B of "Blue Paper" providing it with any competition. Unfortunately, those two cuts very much go against the grain on a record which all too often seems to lack the vitality and zest of its predecessors. Sure there are signs of the textured arrangements and inventive beat making that earned them such a lofty reputation, but the joy and purposefulness that made the likes of "Ampling Amp" and "O.N.E." so refreshing is all but absent. Instead, what we're presented with are a host of supposedly psychedelic jams which lumber along without a sense of meaning or direction. There are times when the album itself sounds desperate for liftoff, only to be denied by yet another muddled, messy conception that should never have made it past the drawing board.

This lack of true inspiration is something that no amount of fine-tuned noises or studio trickery can atone for, resulting in a record which even in its element comes across as something of a damp squib. It's not a complete disaster, and is by no means the first time that Yeasayer have been plagued by inconsistencies, but unlike its predecessors, Frangrant World's highlights alone aren't worth the price of admission. More concerning still is the possibility of the band fulfilling "Longevity's" prophecy, and indeed it wouldn't be altogether surprising if this record heralded the beginning of a far wider decline.

Fragrant World is released internationally on August 20, and a day later in the US. You can stream it in its entirety here.

Official Website

1. Fingers Never Bleed
2. Longevity
3. Blue Paper
4. Henrietta
5. Devil And The Deed
6. No Bones
7. Reagan's Skeleton
8. Demon Road
9. Damaged Goods
10. Folk Hero Shtick
11. Glass Of The Microscope

No comments:

Post a Comment