When I first heard Yeasayer’s debut album, All Hour Cymbals, it quickly became my favorite of 2007. The compelling melodies, the daring experimentation, and the combination of so many different styles of music made it completely mind-blowing.
Then came the follow-up album, Odd Blood, which showed the band turning the corner from world music exploration to electro pop. I found some light within the darkness with songs like “The Children,” but with such pitiful songs as “Ambling Amp,” I was ultimately disappointed.
I had heard a few tracks from Fragrant World last year when Yeasayer rolled through Denver, and I wasn’t impressed. I tried to listen to the album without any predetermined bias of what Yeasayer should sound like, but still found the album coming up short. It doesn’t have any clear direction, and at times, seems like a thin-sounding chaotic jumble.
The album starts out promising enough with “Fingers Never Bleed,” a mysterious track that harnesses their ability to craft catchy pop melodies. Once the album delves into “Longevity,” the question arises as to where the LP is going? Is it an electro pop album? Is it a psychedelic, experimental freak out? After many listens, I still don’t know.
“Blue Paper” commences with a cheesy synth line that sounds like it should be part of an 80’s action movie soundtrack. I can see that playing while Arnold Schwarzenegger kills someone in Total Recall, and then throws in a terrifically awesome one-liner like, “Consider that a divorce.”
“Henrietta” begins strong enough, but the chorus becomes far too repetitive. “Devil & The Deed,” like “Reagan’s Bones” and “Demon Road,” is directionless and boring, with oddly placed synth sounds and poor lyrics.
“No Bones” has a nice range of timbres, but at times has the tendency to sound like keyboard tinkering. “Damaged Goods” goes back to the 80’s action movie theme, but this time it’s at the climax of the movie, where Arnie realizes he can’t act.
“Folk Hero Shtick,” the weakest track on the album, is a chaotic disaster. I can only assume that one was crafted after the band smoked a bunch of pot, munched some Funyuns, and fell asleep on the couch in front of Different Strokes reruns.
The album closes with the surprisingly great “Glass of the Microscope.” The song finally ties the multiple themes and ideas together into a cohesive order, and highlights Yeasayer’s strengths in melody, experimentation, and multiple genres.
Unfortunately, one song can’t save the album, which overall is directionless and uninspired. I appreciate they’re ambition, as they don’t hold back from throwing anything and everything in a song. Yet with all that goes into a song, there must be some sort of cohesion. Sure the tracks will grow on you, because the psychedelic chaos is combined with danceable beats and catchy melodies. I can only hope that Yeasayer will reach their potential and once again and be something great, but with Fragrant World, it’s clear that they have a long way to go.
Can’t Miss: “Glass of the Microscope,” “Fingers Never Bleed.”
Can’t Hit: “Folk Hero Shtick,” “Blue Paper,” “Reagan’s Skeleton,” “Demon Road.”