Yeasayer Begins The Cruelest Month
I think Yeasayer might be one of the most criminally underrated bands of recent memory. Whether the band is patching together droning textures, experimenting with jittering electronics, or getting down on a funky riff, Yeasayer focuses their entire energy on the task at hand. With equally strong vocal arrangements and instrumental structure, the Brooklyn band strikes gold with Amen & Goodnight.
The four singles off the album promise a collection of funk-fueled dance-dramas. Their single “I Am Chemistry” is simultaneously one of their most accessible and most ecclectic songs I’ve heard. The song bounces between loud and lush choruses and taut but muted verses to create a dynamic structure. Combine that with tones that split their time between electronic rhythms and Middle Eastern modes and you have the best of Yeasayer. “I Am Chemistry” has all the trappings of the best of the band’s previous material pushed into maturity.
I think “maturity” would be a good word to use to describe Amen & Goodbye. The album shows a band that has mastered not only the sound they’ve been chasing for a decade or show but also the chemistry between band members. This chemistry allows the band to bring together a staggering amount of source material for an aesthetically cohesive yet constantly shifting album. Yeasayer jumps between worldbeat and electro-pop, between funk and drone throughout the album. That said, they lean heavily on the trails bands like Tears for Fears and the best examples of late 80s RnB set for them.
Their singles “Silly Me” and “Gerson’s Whistle” show the vastly different tones the band is able to create through their collages. “Gerson’s Whistle” is a dramatic and building song. Beginning in a round-like chant, “Gerson’s Whistle” quick builds into a collage of bass led grooves punctuated by bright leads. On the otherhand, “Silly Me” is a light pop romp. The song bounces like Yeasayer doing their best Madonna impression. Much like “Ambling Alp” from Odd Blood, “Silly Me” proves the band can pen some of the weirdest pop around.
Their last single, “Prophecy Gun,” sits squarely in the center of the album. Droning and full of an ethereal beauty, “Prophecy Gun” sounds like a re-sketch of the aesthetic Yeasayer set forth in All Hour Cymbals. Yet, “Prophecy Gun” sounds fuller, more realized than anything off their debut. Offering a brilliant counterpoint to the hitherto quick-tempoed sound, “Prophecy Gun” offers a moment for the listeners of Amen & Goodbye to breathe. And under its textures, there’s funk that never quite makes it to the surface. This back-layering allows the song to act like a hinge for the album–separating the first and second halves while joining them as well.
Amen & Goodby shows a band that has reached maturity without losing the fire that makes their songs shimmer. Yeasayer’s latest album is approachable and ecclectic–offering some of the best experimental pop of the year.