It’s about that time of year when you give up on anything more from this one than Christmas parties, the making of endless lists and three days of drinking wine for breakfast and eating like you’ve got five stomachs.
But it wouldn’t do to overlook the early doors ones, especially not if they’re as good as Yeasayer‘s second album. For the formerly somewhat po-faced, Pitchfork-beloved propagators of gorgeous ambient/world/folk/other/other/other jams have only gone and discovered sex and dancing…
Aagh! The zombie water babies are coming for your souls, with the menacing industrial clank of heavy shackles round their pallid drowned ankles, and weird distorted babbling of gravel-clogged larynxes. Oh, and some quite nice pianos. Every time this comes on in the office, I forget who it is and have to ask again, because it’s so totally bizarre.
In the words that would probably be used by our own Radar editor Jaimie Hodgson, this is A Massive Tune. The chorus is totally euphoric, cuddlier than a drunk puppy (and, weirdly, lyrically similar to ‘Father And Son’ by Cat Stevens). Chris Keating’s voice has never sounded more exuberant and confident, and the gently rolling future-Afropop backing gives up all pretences to be anything other than blatant, brass-parping Peter Gabriel pop brilliance.
If we said this sounded a bit Toto-ish, would that put you off? It shouldn’t. Riding in on a wave of “ooh-ooh-ooh” harmonies, multi-tracked vocals, momentous drums and quite gnarly rock guitar, there’s woman troubles afoot in this one: “Never gave a thought to an honourable living… it’s getting hard to keep pretending I’m worth your time“.
In contrast with the fraught emotional tone of the preceding song, this Fuck Buttons-ish ambient wash is blissed out in the extreme, Keating wailing in falsetto “I remember making out on an airplane… still afraid of flying but with you I tackled it“. Naw, cute. The chorus of “you’re stuck in my mind, all the time“, though, is pure heartbreak that recalls ‘Tightrope’, their contribution to the charity ‘Dark Was The Night’ compilation.
Dancey and upbeat, this is kind of reminiscent of MGMT or !!! in a mellower moment, but with an ambient, worldly warmth that gives more depth than your average NT electro. It seems to be about saying goodbye to a relationship “you don’t move me any more, and I’m glad that you don’t“. Something about those lightweight, squelchy synths is almost La Roux-ish. You can’t help but think this is going to be Yeasayer’s Animal Collective-ish crossover moment.
‘Love Me Girl’
Quite ravey up-front, this one, in a way that makes me think of ‘Insanity’ by Oceanic or ‘It’s A Fine Day’ by Opus III. Animal Collective-ish verses contrast with a funky, Prince-ish chorus, and then those ravey synths again… even bits of housey piano, and new wave bird noises. Shouldn’t work. Does.
This one’s a crunching, vamping global funk shuffle, again echoes of !!!. Who’d have thought beloved blog sungazers Yeasayer could be so saucy, so danceable? Perhaps Keating’s mad vocal guest spot on Simian Mobile Disco’s ‘Audacity Of Huge’ has had an influence.
More familiar Yeasayer territory, this, a bird-sound-haunted, ambient, rambling hymnal, somewhere between shoegaze, psych-folk and ambient. It comes in a many-coloured-kaftan of electronica.
Whop-whack whop-whack whop-whack PARP! Tense and space-funky, it’s sort of like future Yeasayer from the year 2080, except they’ve not been laid between now and 2080, and boy do they have ants in their pants. The refrain of “Everybody’s talking about me and my baby/Making love until the morning light” is insanely catchy. By the way, did we mention this was Yeasayer?
A cosmic folk lullaby falling through layers of treated vocals and all manner of strange but soothing noises, the perfect close to a strange, but also strangely immediate album.