Yeasayer – Fragrant World – Album Review

“I liked their older, weirder shit,” says my friend Jeff when I tell him I’m reviewing Fragrant World, Yeasayer‘s new album that dropped on August 20.

It certainly makes me wanna check out some of their older stuff, because hey, who doesn’t dig interesting artists pushing the boundaries of familiarity? (Well, maybe Carly Rae Jepsen’s fan-base… lord, forgive them, they know not what they do).

So we’ve got “Fingers Never Bleed” up first and it’s the ol’ synth-pop stuff going on in here, which is kind of cool, but you know who is taking synth and electronica-meets-trippy-weird-rock-soul to a whole new level? Fucking John Frusciante and his new album. Not even giving away the title, because I’m supposed to be reviewing Yeasayer here, so… Fingers Never Bleed. Cool beats.

Longevity is sexy; it’s got this sensual beat and it’s desirous in this weird Prince-on-opiates sort of style. Nice.

Clearly, the band is eclectic: from a capella shows on the Paris metro, to opening for Beck and contributing to an AIDS benefit album entitled Dark Was the Night, the Brooklyn-based trio (Chris Keating, Ira Wolf Tuton and Anand Wilder) are definitely into evolving musically. Their tune Wait for the Summer off 2007’s album All Hours has a lot of organic desert guitar in there and loops with these wise, old vocals while this Fragrant World album sounds more like a glitchy, urban, galactic wasteland and the vocals are tenser, higher.

The track Blue Paper kind of reminds me of Blood Orange’s recent album Coastal Grooves. Who isn’t influenced by Prince?

Henrietta is probably a personal favourite on here. Also released as a single, this track, if I had to describe it (and I do, because that’s kind of the point here) has this serious 80s percussion and some swirling orbiting grooves with a grungy bridge. It kind of has this old Kung-Fu-craziness threading through it. Interesting, right?

The album itself stays smooth as a whole. It flows from track to track without any clumsy fragmentation, which makes it perfect for listening to the entire LP in one go. Rare.

The intensity of the synth kind of got irritating after a while, but that might just be my own personal taste coming out. The vocal effects kind of reminded me of what the Mars Volta just did on their Noctourniquet album, which was kind of cool… but cooler when the Mars Volta did it…

No Bones kind of got harsh at times, but there’s a really interesting hook in there that left me wanting to listen to it again.

Okay, should I detail the rest of the tracks (there’s 11 in all) or are you intrigued enough at this point to check it out for yourself? I’m going to say check it out for yourself. It’s not a waste of time. If you’re looking for an album to chuck on while you have dranks with your friends, then here you go. It’s always weird trying to find good music while you all sit around in strained silence, thinking, “Come on, find something groovy already.”

So here, I’m making it easy – Fragrant World came out on August 20. Listen to it. Nod your head. Maybe even dance a bit. This album’s good for that.