The opposite of love is not hate but rather indifference.
I will say this, when a lot of people start loving an indie band, I’m often dubious, and doesn’t really good indie take a while to seep into your pores? How can someone love a band that’s trying to be different right away?
I believe there is probably more merit to and that can form a lot of negative energy quickly. I understand that’s a problematic assumption. Sure lots of peeps hate Kreayshawn with good reason. But what I’m talking about is when a band finds a way to fall between the cracks of what is cool and what is original and often interesting, original bands take a lot of unnecessary heat for flaunting the indie rock rules — and when we get mad at music for breaking the rules, we’ve really lost the point, no? Well the first 30 things I heard about Yeasayer was “these guys are hippies,” “this isn’t indie,” “who are these guys and how did they get all over the blogosphere.” A lot of hubbub for a band I never heard of. In fact a 2008 Stereogum feature was so vilely commented on, the comments were stripped. When I heard that I had to check this band out immediately.
I more-than-mildly enjoyed their debut All Hour Cymbals, a mix of indie, light sampling, and some world-ish music influences with better than decent tunes. But what blew me away was their “Take Home Concert” video from 2008 of the band performing live on the subway and street of Paris, singing a capella and banging beer bottles for percussion. Wow, super unique! I took note and kept track of these guys. They made a 2nd album, Odd Blood , that dropped a bit of the world music influence and tightened up a pop sensibility and gained some followers (The Hype Machine named Yeasayer the most blogged artist of 2010) as well as losing a drummer while dialing up the electronics.
And now Yeasayer is releasing their third record under a torrent of crazy press quotes and secret and technologically innovative press stunts and leaks. Fragrant World has completed the shift from quasi-hippie-WOMAD-band to modern electro pop act. Yeasayer is not trying to appeal to a small few, this is music for everyone, but these guys don’t dial down the creativity for their crossover – not in the least. Most of Fragrant World’s tracks are simple: a sample or two, a simple drum machine pattern, some clever but economical bass and vocal, in many ways Yeasayer remind me of what the Police might sound like if they were a new band with today’s modern technology (I mean that as a HIGH compliment).
“Devil and the Deed” track has a danceable, terse synth pulse that eventually breaks into a rollicking catchy chorus; these guys are no longer hippies. “Reagan’s Skeleton,” is half disco shuffle workout, half bro fist-pumper, maybe something more apt to hear at an EDM festival than at an in indie club. Then you have “Folk Hero Schtick.” It has one of most noteworthy sonic tricks I’ve ever heard. The track seems to mix back and forth between what sounds like a tinny, poorly-recorded demo and the fully mastered and electrified version in a natural and unforced way, really cool. This music was made for the masses and succeeds at every turn. Interestingly enough the track that is the most inscrutable has been the advance track that Yeasayer has released to the press, but maybe the best. “Henrietta” is really two tracks, the first, more poppy but almost songs like the aforementioned Police’s “King of Pain,” ska-inflected, sparse and alive. The 2nd half is a long slow-building repetition of a singular idea, each time building and building adding bits of clever percussion or backing vocal then finally climaxing into an electro sing-along. Way to go.
That’s not to say Fragrant World is perfect, there are a couple of throw away tracks and occasionally the singing of co-frontmen Chris Keating and Anand Wilder can be a little bland but these are minor points when compared with the sonic treat of Fragrant World. It seems like these guys are finding their way, enduring those who can’t handle their singular creativity and delivering the goods.
Yeasayer are performing at FYF this Sunday! Purchase your tickets here.
Words by Stephe Psi-x