Brooklyn quartet Yeasayer picked a good name for themselves, because on their debut LP All Hour Cymbals, they seem to be saying “Yea!” to their every stylistic whim. Bollywood? Gospel? Psychedelic? Yea, yea, and yea! With each unpredictable song taking you in a new direction — sometimes many directions — the album is a veritable Mister Toad’s Wild Ride of exhilarating twists and turns.
The opening and closing songs couldn’t be more different — ‘Sunrise’ is a thumping, dirty R&B dance track (think Hot Chip), while ‘Red Cave’ is a rootsy, Polyphonic Spree-style hymn in which the band sings chorus-style about being blessed with wonderful friends and family. And those are just the bookends — there’s a whole glorious world in between.
The most accessible, catchy track, ‘2080’, touches on the complex emotions of living in these troubled times, contrasting bleak lyrics about not wanting to think about what’s in store (“In 2080 I’ll surely be dead/So don’t look ahead”) with a hopeful chorus of chanting children. ‘Wait for the Summer’ floats seamlessly from frenetic to dreamy to soulful in the space of a few minutes. Even the less successful songs, which are stacked toward the end of the record, hold interest thanks to the layered arrangements.
In a sense, the record plays like an aural tour of today’s indie landscape — at different points you’re reminded of the world music tinge of Vampire Weekend, the multi-tracked vocals of TV on the Radio, the intricate harmonies of Grizzly Bear and so on — but Yeasayer manages to avoid seeming like they’re aping any one band in particular. Somehow, by adopting nearly all the far-reaching elements of the current scene, they’ve created a new, evolved sound.
Of course, this mélange of styles will appeal to a wide audience, and I wouldn’t be surprised if Yeasayer became the next “it” band. ‘2080’ got some good press when it was released as a single a few months back, but as I was doing research on Yeasayer I was shocked that there were a scant three mentions of them on Pitchfork. Get on the bandwagon now and you can say you knew them before they had a Wikipedia page.