This is my feeble attempt to listen to the new Yeasayer album and describe everything I am hearing, from the first note to the last. From the first track even the most studied of ears to their sound and Chris' voice would not recognize that this is them. It sounds more like a new song by the Swedish brother/sister duo the KNIFE. It is creepy, dynamic, intricate, daunting and dark. As dark as you could get on the deepest of winter nights. The voices singing sound like they are from the netherworld. Calling out to you from beyond the void and just when you think you might be beginning to understand...the song is over.
Track two=Ambling Amp trickles out onto the sound scape skipping and jumping along with all of the energy of that the band has been hiding from us while we have been eagerly awaiting this next album. I first heard this song when I was at the Pitchfork Music Festival. It was mixed into their set and immediately was at home. Traditional Yeasayer elements are bursting forth from every beat of the wooden sticks that you hear laughing at you in the background. Chris' voice sounds much more optimistic and confident than we have ever heard before.
As the third track begins, like I usually feel with all of my favorite bands---i hope this one is longer than the songs that have come before. I instantly recognize that they played this song at the Pfork Festival as well. This time it is not Chris we hear singing, but Anand Wilder ...calling out to us with longing and loss with the lyrics "if my vices are a burden, please don't let me know*...cast me from your home." One of the hidden weapons within this band's bulky arsenal of talent is the interchanging vocals of both Chris and Anand. They harmonize magically into one piercing and delicate voice, individually they are inviting and textured like silvery velvet. Easily said, they are going places.
Much will be said about this next song comparing it to Grizzly Bear and Animal Collective. I am calling it now. I want people to remember that when Panda Bear came out with his album and had bursts and fits of vocal calls, chants, screams and clips, Chris was doing this as well. Because bloggers and music writers love to discuss cause and reaction...there will be comparisons made for sure. This is another reason why we will see Yeasayer become one of the biggest bands in 2010. Right now is just the calm before the storm. Much like Girls from Animal Collective's Merriweather Post Pavilion, this track rises into the sky like a lullaby. Easy on the ears and powerful enough to not slide into the grey zone of being overdone or tacky.
"You're stuck in my mind all the time" Hey-every album needs a ballad, right?
Track five has to be big based on positioning alone...you have hit the half-point on the album---and it is. Jovial from the first beat it is full of rhythms and I am happy to welcome it's sound back into my ears. THIS IS THE SONG. The song that I have been reporting back about for months now. The song that could have busted up and broken down their set. They played it just as it began to completely downpour onto an audience of Chicago music lovers and it could have gone either way...people could have been pissy and run for shelter---or they could have given into joy and danced. This is what happened and it was amazing. It was one of those moments when I completely forget all of the shitty bosses I have had, all of the tears of frustration I have felt at moments over the past years trying to work with what I love and still be successful---for this is quite the feat in the music industry. I LOVE this song and you will too. If you do not instantly feel like getting up and jumping around and singing and spreading your arms to this song then stop---just stop listening, stop reading my blog, any blog for that matter...because you should be jumping around. You 100% absolutely should be.
**"Having time having fun, it's much easier said than it's done. Hoping you could fall, hold me like you used to, control me like you used to. No, you don't me move me anymore. And I am glad that you know, cause I can't have it anymore. I thought you should know, you don't move me anymore. And I am glad that you know. Cause I can't take it anymore."
Building from the momentum collected from track five, track six kicks over like an animated car video with spaceship technology and 70's costumes. That is to say it sounds like a futuristic Daft Punk synth dream fast-forwarded with sounds from the 70s and 80s that we welcome as known knowledge. Chris kind of sounds like Justin Timberlake combined with Alexis Taylor at first. Alright...don't hate...but he kind of does. This is also not a bad thing. When Chris reaches for that vocal point, straining on his lungs' tippie-toes it is a good thing. It lends a whole other sound and element of emotion to the band's already deep and dynamic box of tricks. It is obvious the band had fun listening to Chromeo's signature voice modifier tube (not sure of the technical term), they toss it in here and there and it works well.
The seventh song sounds like Hall & Oats on speed. The harmonies and the backbeat remind of this band...it is completely fun and works well to push the album forward. Whereas it is not a standout track, it is still a good one and is sure to be a crowd mover during their live shows. The lyrics tell about the world being there's...it's just a matter of time. Much like MGMT's famed song Kids foretelling of their fame, this song is just sharing with us what is sure to happen to this Brooklyn ensemble.
Track eight I have to re-play, clocking in at 2:35 it is over before I can even wrap my critical ears around it. I also have to lower the volume on my laptop which has been punishing all of my neighbors to see if this helps me understand it at a different decibel. It is a ghost of a song, swaying in with invisible, prowling moves and cooing layered melodies. It is a good transitional song and very beautiful.
Tracks number nine and ten end the album with a complete bang. Track nine teases and flirts as Chris repeats how much he loves making love with his baby "until the early light." Totally dance-floor worthy and will easily be remixed by hungry dj's who will in turn post their tracks all over Hype Machine. Track number ten...well, i have shared enough. You will just have to wait and hear for yourself ;)
Overall, new Yeasayer= LOVE. 10.0! ***** Two thumbs up...and all that jazz. Cannot wait.
*(or go, not sure...)
**(not sure of exactly lyrics either...)
*Yeasayer video from Blogotheque...my favorite.
*Yeasayer will release this, their sophomore album via Secretly Canadian in 2010