Yeasayer Keeps It Weird
By Tankboy in Arts & Entertainment on Aug 21, 2012 3:00PM
Yeasayer at the 2009 Pitchfork Music Festival photo by Jim Kopeny
Sometimes it's hard to tell just what kind of band Yeasayer wants to be. Their debut, All Hour Cymbals, largely extolled their pastoral and folksier virtues while their sophomore effort, Odd Blood, brought us a band firmly in the grip of the global dance club. The through line between those albums was the band's skewed approach to melody, willfully warping and twisting lines to produce increasingly weird yet hummable music. Their new album, Fragrant World, splits the difference between its predecessors to abandon much of the poppier inclinations to meld its electronics to it's psychedelia to produce a work of queasy wooziness.
Fragrant World is a darker work, finding the band retreating into deep dark caverns of slowly decaying technology. There's an apocalyptic darkness seeping in, causing even the shiniest of synthesizers to sound menacing. And the propulsive rhythms are still there, but there's a mechanical sameness to them that evokes dread over dance. If there debut was pure sunshine and their last album a disco ball, Fragrant World is the moon viewed through thick and distorted glass. It's not as immediately accessible and there is nothing on here that shouts instant anthem like "Madder Red" or "Ambling Alp," so don't expect to just sink effortlessly into this. But if you allow yourself to let go and let your headphones do the thinking the music begins to make more sense as it spreads through your headspace.
We're curious to see how this latest work stands up alongside the group's back catalog when they come into town to play The Vic on Aug. 22. The one thing that has remained a constant with Yeasayer throughout the years, and we've witnessed this through every phase of their career thus far, is their ability to throw their all into their live sets to trigger energetic and rapturous shows. Even their slower numbers are imbued with a new electricity so we're curious to see how the deep throbbing synths on Fragrant World get transformed onstage. We're predicting that the disc's spiritual center will be pumped up by throbbing bass and transform into something altogether new once its music is delivered in the context of a club. Only expect those spiritual tendencies to manifest in the form of a revival rather than inward reflection.
Yeasayer plays August 22 at The Vic,, 3145 N Sheffield, 8 p.m., $24, 18+