Yeasayer’s Fragrant World – A Critique

By: Jack Rowe Email
By: Jack Rowe Email

The following is a very straightforward critique of Yeasayer’s new album Fragrant World, take it or leave it. SPIN Magazine described it as the “worst new music” so I feel confident that I can’t do them any worse than that.

With a discography boasting only three albums, they achieved a respectable bit of fame with the release of their single “2080” and by taking full advantage of the limelight at SXSW just after in 2007. I’ve heard soundscapes, compelling stories, and poetry come out of bands but this is best suited by the description of “sound collage” – a distinct, experimental sound endemic to Brooklyn, New York. Plop it somewhere between Gang Gang Dance and Dirty Projectors or between Chromeo and MGMT… the choice is yours. However, I can’t quite tell if they’re embracing the area or making a stand against it. They seem to side with the Occupy Wall Street protestors with their view of modern American society highlighted in songs like “Fingers Don’t Bleed” and Reagan’s Skeleton.” The latter of which incorporates “don’t fear the red eyes, fear the satellites overhead” into the chorus, revealing their paranoid perception of the world they have experienced. Portrayed through grungy synth accompanied by atmospheric vocals, Yeasayer conjures up images of a Gothamesque city of corruption and avarice – at least that’s what it seems to be what they’re going for. Call me a naysayer but I found this album slightly too synth-heavy for my taste although I really enjoy a couple songs off the album – “Henrietta” and “Glass of the Microscope.”

To brighten the mood, give “Stillness Is the Move” by the Dirty Projectors. It’s an older jam, but I feel it represents Brooklyn in a more positive light. Good listening.


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