Ever since their debut almost ten years ago, psych-pop experimentalists Yeasayer have never ceased to thrill. Fusing a vast array of musical styles from ‘80s electro to hazy dream folk as well as showcasing clear African and Middle Eastern influences, the band appear to have revelled in their inability to be too quickly pigeonholed. However, 2012’s ‘Fragrant World’ proved somewhat divisive among fans and critics. Muddled and bloated with ideas, it felt wildly incoherent and less satisfying than previous outings. Their fourth album, ‘Amen & Goodbye’ sees them, for the most part, at their delirious and playful best.
This is perhaps best encapsulated by the superb one-two punch of ‘I Am Chemistry’ and ‘Silly Me’. The former features the sort of exquisitely crafted, shapeshifting musical backdrop we’ve come to expect from the Brooklynites, and the way its oscillating synth break gives way to piano and choir (yes, a choir) is a touch of brilliance. The latter on the other hand, recalls the danceable pop peak of ‘O.N.E.’ The ethereal ‘Prophecy Gun’ is the band at their most affecting, slowly building to a slightly mad but beautiful wail of a crescendo.
The brief, sometimes instrumental tracks woven throughout the album are less essential and seem more like a distraction from the main event. Despite the prominent use of electronics, Yeasayer successfully manage to meld together the delicious organic textures of their debut with the electro pop sensibilities of 2010 breakthrough ‘Odd Blood’. ‘Amen & Goodbye’ is undoubtedly a strong return but also one that’s just a couple of tracks short of something genuinely great.
Words: Luke Winstanley
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