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Live Review: Yeasayer

Clap your hands say yea. 02 Academy, Oxford, Thursday, October 8

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Yeasayer have rubbed just as many people up the wrong way as they have the right since arriving in 2007. Even tonight, supporting mystic pal Bat For Lashes, it’s easy to see why: bassist Ira Wolf Tuton persists in wearing an awful session-man vest, a porkpie hat sits askance one of two (temporary) new percussionist’s heads and to certain cloth-blocked ears, the band’s sound could evoke a particularly whiffy Danish blue.

In ours, however, it’s a jubilant noise that keeps us guessing what they are. Rendering much of Bat For Lashes’ set a lighter shade of beige, their whole is much greater than the sum of their provocative parts: a painstaking fusion of sun-dappled meandering so proggy the dry smoke is conspicuous by its absence, and the sort of smooth ’80s pop to which Patrick Bateman would disfigure his latest lay. Acknowledging the potential for misjudgement, even the band call their sound “Enya with bounce”. We prefer something more like Toto’s expanding head music.

Since they were last here, plugging ‘All Hour Cymbals’, the Brooklyn outfit have dragged the synths to the fore along with fist-waving ’80s anthemia – and the result is indeed a resemblance to cheese-ball power-balladeers Toto, especially in the first of three as-yet nameless new songs the band road-test tonight. With enough widdly quirks, heads-down riffing and tribal percussion skewering this MOR heart, it stays just the right side of naff.
Another celebratory newbie suggests Elvis Costello singing from somewhere amid Gang Gang Dance’s forest of rhythm, while a third
is a giddy-pop triumph, veering from Sparks to Animal Collective via Queen. And with ‘Sunrise’ towering ever higher, the band’s upcoming second album, set for release in January, might put a full-stop next to that beef with Vampire Weekend.

Chris Parkin

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