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Yeasayer - Fragrant World

  by Benjamin Howarth

published: 12 / 10 / 2012

Yeasayer - Fragrant World
Label: Mute Records
Format: CD


Miscalculated 90’s-influenced dancefloor pop third album from once more experimental Brooklyn-based band, Yeasayer

When Yeasayer released their debut, ‘All Hour Cymbals’, in 2007, there were no other bands that sounded anything like them. Good news for anyone who hated them, of course, but also a tough call for their fans, who had to wait three years for a follow up. Unfortunately, that follow up (‘Odd Blood’, 2010) saw Yeasayer sanding down their jaggier edges. Gone were the splinters and unexpected textures, as the band’s diverse mess of world music influences were replaced by a closer adherence to the kind of music so many other electronic groups were doing. You hoped it was a temporary misstep. Alas, on ‘Fragrant World’, the sound is smoother still. This is their pop album. While it wasn’t impossible to imagine a song like ‘I Remember’ from Odd Blood filling dancefloors, some of these songs seem designed solely for that purpose. No doubt there’s some skill involved here in the faithful recreations of mid-90’s chart dance pop – all silky keyboard lines and muted beats, and it would be unfair to say Yeasayer’s music has descended to the anaemic pap you would have heard on a mid-90’s Ministry of Sound compilation. But, Yeasayer have stripped away too much, leaving only moderately catchy tunes and largely uninteresting instrumentation. The vocals were clearly intended to ring out front and centre on ‘Fragrant World’. Yet, it’s curiously hard to focus on them. Perhaps I’m just so used to letting electronic music wash over me, meaninglessly, that I can’t attune my ears to songs that want me to see beeps ‘n’ bleeps as substantive backing to a conventional song. That’s not to say this album is wholly without merit. ‘Fingers Never Bleed’, the opening track, is promising, as the rave motifs don’t become tiresome until you play further into the album. There are also occasions – usually when the formulaic melodies break down – when the skittering beats suddenly catch your interest, or when unexpected instrumentation gives light to a track, such as the burst of violin that closes out ‘Longevity’. There is still good music hiding within Yeasayer. However, this feels like a miscalculation – an attempt to make their songs fit into the limitations of a revived genre. Doubly unfortunate that the genre in question has so little to recommend it.

Track Listing:-
1 Fingers Never Blood
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

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Interview (2010)
Yeasayer - Interview
Mark Rowland speaks to Ira Wolf Tuton, the bassist with New York-based art rock band Yeasayer, about his band's acclaimed second album 'Odd Blood' and how it has both translated and also developed on stage

live reviews

Rescue Rooms, Nottingham, 12/10/2009
Yeasayer - Rescue Rooms, Nottingham, 12/10/2009
Yeasayer have been among the few bands that I know I should listen to but… don’t. They emerged in 2007 with their critically praised album ‘All Hour Cymbals’, full of experimental sounds and eccentri
King's College, London, 20/8/2008
ICA, London, 6/3/2008



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