Yeasayer – Fragrant World (Review)
Review by Jack Foley
YEASAYER’S return marks more of the same of their slightly quirky, offbeat electro-pop sound and is a more hit-and-miss affair than last time around.
Combining darkness and light, the album flits between slick and appealing and ponderous and self-indulgent.
It begins brightly, though, with one of its highlights, Fingers Never Bleed, which combines some intriguing electronic arrangements with busy beat selections, a woozy violin-sounding electronic loop and some crisp, appealing vocals. The chorus is great too.
Lead single Longevity, meanwhile, combines some cute electronic melodies with a catchy back-beat and another good chorus (which somehow sounds Erasure-like). The Eastern-influenced strings that eventually make a bow are also intriguing and give the song a belated surge.
Evidence of the Brooklyn trio’s ability to mix things up over the course of a track is then strikingly evident on Blue Paper, which morphs into places that are totally unexpected, while former limited release Henrietta barely sticks to any distinct rhythm and operates as a law unto itself. It’s the sound of Yeasayer at their most polarising. Likewise, No Bones, which sounds like Prince on drugs and is all over the place.
Better are the skewed beats, driving electronics and synth harpsichord surges of Devil And The Deed and the politically-scathing Reagan’s Skeleton, which comes over like early Depeche Mode and makes some valid points over its dark electro-pop.
Demon Road also has some interesting electronic sounds running through it, as if the track is possessed of the demons it speaks of, while Damaged Goods sounds suitably edgy and even Tangerine Dream-leaning in its use of synths.
Folk Hero Shtick, meanwhile, takes a fierce pop at what it perceives as talent-free singers doing the obvious to find fame. It is, perhaps, the song that best sums up Yeasayer and their commitment to doing things their own way.
It may make for offbeat music-making but there’s a lyrical astuteness and a sonic ability to continually surprise that always makes the album interesting to hear… if not always successful. It’s also never dull.
Download picks: Fingers Never Bleed, Longevity, Devil And The Deed, Demon Road