Sunday, December 02, 2007

The Yes Men

At only a passing listen you'd might think of Yeasayer as TV on the Radio gone shoegazer or an electronic version of Beirut. The Pitchfork review of All Hour Cymbals likens the band's sound to that of late 70s Eno and Byrne. For my part I hear some of the same musical origins that Pitchfork cite for TVOR, Celebration and Animal Collective but my instinct is to credit the prog rock of Gentle Giant, King Crimson or (god help me for saying this) Genesis more than the Talking Heads in Yeasayers heritage. There is one element that stands out as clearly contemporary is Yeasayer's production quality is almost identical to that of the last two Liars albums. The sound echoes as if the band were recording in the same Berlin warehouse Angus Andrews fled into to create the masterpiece Drum's Not Dead. Everything reverberates, including the vocals, which gives the music a mystical quality. It's a conflict of auras, I suppose, as the urge to use the drums in a full-on Africanized beat is quelled by the use of silken strings and soft synthesizers.
The music itself floats along in a dreamlike wave as lead singer Chris Keating lets his voice hang in the air from lyric to lyric. The whole affair has a definite psychedelic quality to it as the band wraps itself in global instrumentation while Keating sings about the present and future of the human condition. 2080 in particular puts Keating's fears of the future front and center. Yet the band's wanderlust attitude comes on as an attempt to reassure us of something but without saying what. This is not a band you rock out to but instead lie back and let the music shake out your mind like some old maid cleaning away the dust from a carpet. It's an overstatement to say that the album is greatness on a platter but Yeasayer has put together an emotionally satisfying record without diving into sappiness. This band is driven and the music meanders willfully.
On a side note I'd like to mention the dual meaning contained in the album's title. When I first typed it out I replaced Cymbals with Symbols but another glance at the label saved me from a potential faux pas. Even so, I noticed one can read the title in two different ways: one being All Hour Cymbals as originally written or as All Our Symbols. Whether this dual meaning was intention or not I do not know. Still, cleverness like that, however unintentional, is worth mentioning. Pick this album up if you like the sounds of Animal Collective or early 80s Brian Eno production.

Yeasayer @ MySpace

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