Album of the Week: Yeasayer – Fragrant World
Album number three finds Yeasayer at a bit of a crossroads. After an earthy and occasionally splendid, chamber-pop debut in All Hour Cymbals, the band found greater success and cult acclaim with Odd Blood, home to the excellent singles Ambling Alp and O.N.E.
So would the band continue with Odd Blood’s more synth-based sounds, seek out their more organic roots or head off somewhere else entirely?
Well it’s a combination of one and three. Guitar sounds are at premium here, and initially at least, Mr Tune also seems to have gone walkies. Opening duo Fingers Never Bleed and Longevity concentrate hard on being intriguing rather than hummable.
So far, so Animal Collective, but we return to welcome territory with Blue Paper which recaptures the multi-layered vocal interplay of Chris Keating and Anand Wilder. Better yet is Henrietta which pulls in a genuinely catchy keyboard riff, and bit of squalling guitar before hitting a dreamy, elongated outro.
Like much of the album though, Henrietta could do with being a little louder. Some of the songs – No Bones or Reagan’s Skeleton for example – here have potential to be huge floor-fillers, that kind of song that gets the hairs on the back of your neck standing on end from the opening bars and sees you itching to push down the front.
Fragrant World just feels a bit underproduced. Like with Hot Chip, you’ll be wanting those beats to thump that bit harder. Maybe the band are a little terrified of the fact they’ve written a few bangers, undermining their NYC cool; maybe these songs truly do the business live.
Yeasayer are indeed at a crossroads but even they seem unsure of the path they’ve taken. The Tidal Wave of Indifference often finds synth-pop a little yawnsome, but when the songs are as good as this, we’ll take it over indulgent hipster fodder every time and would be delighted to nudge Yeasayer down the right path. Fragrant World is a qualified success, but it’s time to throw off the shackles, chaps.