With fame and success, artists tend to become lazy and dependent on the resources that so rapidly become available to them. Third and fourth albums may take on vapid pop arrangements and leave the studio work to others, but Yeasayer stands out from the bunch as always. Set to release their third album, Fragrant World on August 21st via Secretly Canadian, the experimental Brooklyn band bring us a self-produced follow up to their sophomore hit, Odd Blood, which featured popular tracks, “Ambling Alp,” “O.N.E.,” and “Madder Red.”
Fragrant World has a fascinating centerpiece made of abstract dance tracks, ready to be added to their rich, poly-rhythmic collection. First to hop off the album were singles “Henrietta” and “Longevity,” songs which could be closely related to an electronic Phil Collins (circa Genesis)–the tribal beats and high energy vocals say it all. Intricate rhythms and darker, synthetic tones have found their way into the band’s esoteric niche. At first listen, it may seem outlandish, but with each rotation, the album and its many hooks assemble as an organic piece of weird, yet beautiful work. If you get it, you get it.
“We’re still a niche kind of band, even if I’m not sure what that niche is,” frontman Chris Keating has said. “I think our true kind of core fans are happy for us to change directions and do whatever we want, since that’s what they’ve come to expect from us. With the last album, we were probably aiming for more of a wider audience, and going for something that was less atmospheric and esoteric, and more direct. With this one, I don’t think we really thought about that.”
The album begins with “Fingers Never Bleed,” a disguised break-up song with claps accentuating Keating’s on-edge whine. Razor sharp, pulsating cazoo-like textures mediate the slow, gloomy bass (think Terminator the film). “Henrietta” picks up the pace as track #4 with twirly electronics, and adds the pop quality that can be read between the abstract lines of Yeasayer’s hooks. Other top picks are the dramatic “Blue Paper” and the bass-ridden “Reagan’s Skeleton”–the latter being one of the most hard-hitting and dance worthy of the bunch. Still, “Longevity” rivals them all for the best single off Fragrant World.
For those who do get this less direct approach and appeal–their many, many niche followers-the band sent 200 random fans physical CD of the first single “Henrietta” and encouraged them to share it. On top of that, they created a moving visual for every song and hid each all over the internet for their fans to find (see below). Yes: They created a virtual scavenger hunt.
Yeasayer has won our hearts again.
Track Listing (Top picks: *)
1. Fingers Never Bleed*
3. Blue Paper*
5. Devil and the Deed
6. No Bones
7. Reagan’s Skeleton*
8. Demon Road
9. Damaged Goods
10. Folk Hero Shtick
11. Glass of the Microscope
Tour Dates 6/19: Richmond, VA @ National
6/20: Asheville, NC @ Orange Peel
6/21: Knoxville, TN @ Bijou Theater
6/22: Nashville, TN @ Cannery
6/23: Louisville, KY @ Headliners
6/24: Cincinnati, OH @ 20th Century Theater
7/02: Vienna, Austria @ Szene
7/04: Gdynia, Poland @ Heineken Open’er Festival
7/07: Bruges, Belgium @ Cactus Festival
7/08: Lieges, Belgium @ Les Ardentes
7/09: Utrecht, Holland @ Tivoli De Heling
7/13: Norfolk, England @ Latitude
7/15: Grafenhainichen, Germany @ Melt Festival