Yeasayer-Fragrant World

For the majority of my life I didn’t like electronic music. And when I say didn’t like I really mean that I completely dismissed it as a pointless endeavor. Maybe it’s because when I was young there were so many bands trying to make it work and failing miserably, but the style always left me a little cold. That changed a few years ago when I started listening to LCD Soundsystem and Hot Chip and realized that there were people around doing it right, making it personal and intimate. So I started checking out other groups that did it, and eventually I ended up hearing Yeasayer‘s contribution to the Dark Was The Night benefit album, “Tightrope.” It was pretty much a done deal after that. I haven’t been a hardcore fan, but I have been listening and I picked up their Record Store Day 7″ End Blood as part of my spending spree on that day.

Fragrant World, the follow-up to 2010’s Odd Blood, comes out August 24th and I was lucky enough to hear it a little early. It’s a little darker, with a more drone-like sound. They haven’t lost their sense of melody or fun, though. This album seems at home in your bedroom with earbuds in or out at a club on the dancefloor. They seem to be taking their influences (Paper Diamond, Battles, Justice,etc.) and turning them on their head and somehow making it sound fantastic.

That’s apparent on one of the songs off the album you may have already heard, “The Devil And The Deed.” It’s one of my favorite songs in this set, and maybe one of my favorites that they’ve ever done. As with every song on the record, there’s a lot going on and they leave no space unfilled. Synths on top of synths with a slightly modified vocal and about five different drum tempos, it comes together to make a masterpiece of electro-pop.

On “Longevity” the slow bass kick opens up and remains a constant throughout the song. The vocals remind me of (and I’m dating myself here) Zapp & Roger-style R&B. It’s here that they deliver the best line on the album, “Live in the moment, never count on longevity.” It appears that Yeasayer is growing up a bit, and putting their new perspective on life into their songwriting. I’m all for that. And it doesn’t seem to be taking anything away from their musical creativity, so it’s just making the songs better.

A lot of this style of music is enjoyed through discovery, so I won’t spoil any more of Fragrant World for you. If you’re a fan of Yeasayer you’ve probably already pre-ordered this record. If you’re new to the band, this could be a great spot to jump in. The sounds created feel familiar but are wholly original, and I think that this is their most universally appealing album to date. It’s like the best hits of the 80’s filtered through heavy synths and given a more updated polish.

Yeasayer will be on tour through mid-September. They’ll be stopping here in Chicago on August 22nd at The Vic.

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