Monday, August 20, 2012

Yeasayer: "Fragrant World" (album review)

Few groups manage to cram as many sound and influences into their music as Brooklyn's Yeasayer.  On their third album, Fragrant World, the trio off up 11 more tracks, each bursting at the seams with the strain of their arrangements.

Yeasayer lean far more heavily on R&B for this outing.  Never is anything they do straight up, so you can expect lots of twisting, warping, and stretching on tracks like "Longevity".  Slick and slightly edgy, "Blue Paper" sounds like what you would expect Prince to sound like had he been born a quarter century later.

The muffled beats of "Fingers Never Bleed" (it feels like you're listening to them with your ears filled with honey) give you a delightfully dirty feeling.

There are a few tracks that are just plain catchy as well.  "Reagan's Skeleton" is strangely danceable, while "Demon Road" boasts an infectious hook.  The TV On The Radio-esque "Henrietta" combines funky rhythms and an impenetrable electronic wall of sound for an unlikely hip-shaker.

Occasionally, there's too much going on all at once.  Elements of hip hop, R&B, a rave-friendly electronica turn "No Bones" into a jumbled mess.  High hopes for "Folk Hero Shtick" (based on the title alone) are dashed when you're confronted with one of the more shallow-sounding tracks on the record.

I don't know if we've adapted to Yeasayer or the band has adapted to us, but the group continues to become more listenable with each release.  The fact that they do it without obviously sacrificing art is the most impressive feat.

Yeasayer play the Sound Academy in Toronto tomorrow night.

Best tracks: "Henrietta", "Reagan's Skeleton"

Track listing for Fragrant World:
  • Fingers Never Bleed
  • Longevity
  • Blue Paper
  • Henrietta
  • Devil and the Deed
  • No Bones
  • Reagan's Skeleton
  • Demon Road
  • Damaged Goods
  • Folk Hero Shtick
  • Glass of the Microscope

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