Postmodern artists, of any mediums, suffer from a kind of Jack of all Trades complex. So good that they are at doing everything that at one point they’re gonna discover that they are really masters of none of it. Fragrant World could be that turning point for Yeasayer.
After the psychedelia of All Hour Cymbals’ off-kilter weirdo folk and the dancing synths of follow-up Odd Blood, this third album is surprisingly just plain despite the decidedly darker tone. Perhaps it’s the more restrained approach they are taking with the album, the band is more concentrated on their synths and beat programming than their progressive riffs and multi-instrumented free jams. Something music fans have heard of before from other bands, and even Yeasayer themselves with some of the songs on their previous album (here they strip themselves even further).
The more subdued synthy abstraction of the glitch and tribal beats does make for atmospheric tracks, ‘Henrietta’ in particular is affecting in pure mood sense. Other tracks, such as ‘Folk Hero Schtick’ has hints of their first album’s ethnic music influence, it’s also the most danceable song on the album – easily making it the highlight.
‘Reagan’s Skeletons’ displays some of the band’s previous traits, namely the vocal breakdown, which saved the song from being boring electronic pop. It seems like the less they try to unchain themselves from the past, the stronger they sound.
But we understand the need for musicians to free themselves from established expectations, maybe Fragrant World is that transitory album where a band disengages the past from their future. Breakups aren’t always seamless.
LISTEN TO: ‘Henrietta’, ‘Folk Hero Schtick’, ‘Reagan’s Skeleton’
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