April 22, 2024

Yeasayer – Amen & Goodbye



Do they mean it? Is this goodbye? Or just goodbye to the previous incarnations of the band’s sound?

The psychedelic appeal of Yeasayer didn’t hit me immediately on this one but after a few spins, its charms were loud and proud. A gentle, insistent, folky, poppy pin board of colourful ideas, the album floats in a rainbow of ideas and catchy but strange hooks. Lyrical snatches puzzle. I Am Chemistry flits between electronic thud and a floating chorus of “my mother told me not to fool with Oleander”. What does it mean? Does it matter? The track is touched by alt-folk royalty, featuring, as it does, Suzzy Roche of eighties cult artists, The Roches. Silly Me, the follow-on is an instant pop hit in its hook.

Yeasayer are new to me but possibly not to you, so excuse any stating of the obvious. The band lie between the Flaming Lips, one of the few genuinely mind-altering bands, and The Beatles. A number of songs have Beatle-esque melodic hooks and the band obviously love playing tunes. Otherwise, on songs like Half Asleep, they use sing-song folky recitative, and echo British wonders, The Moulettes. Lots of lovely sounds feature, like detuned piano, stacked female vocals, plucked strings, harmonies and something like a theramin.

Apparently the band are un-pin-down-able, moving over their previous three albums from electronics to indie to indie rock, shifting in all sorts of directions, this album being more organic in instrumentation. Perhaps it is, but it is also assembled from many pieces to make a big collage / mosaic of ideas and textures, a concept digital and post-modern at heart.

The whole is pretentious and art / proggy but ultimately endearing in its scruffy cut-and-pasting of ideas and melodies.

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