Yeasayer – Fragrant World
by Matthew Yau
Phew! The most epic game of hide and seek is finally over and after endless hours running around the internet like a pug who’s just entered a new home, the complete picture of Yeasayer’s Fragrant World is officially painted. It was a brilliant idea to get fans in a frenzy about their new material (not that they weren’t already) and the note above is what started is all off. But if you haven’t been paying attention, we’ve collated the album for you here but get stuck in right away because the videos will be removed on 8 August at 8pm.
Fragrant World, the third album in Yeasayer’s collection, marks the biggest change in direction since All Hour Cymbals as they’ve moved away slightly from the tribal and religious undercurrents in ‘Wait for the Summer’ and ‘Wintertime’. Nor does it bear much resemblance to the eastern-sounding Odd Blood, but fear not fellow yeasayers because Fragrant World still has an inherently explicit Yeasayer quality about it. And if you haven’t heard of Yeasayer before then you’re lucky enough to have three fresh albums to listen to.
Things start off fairly conservatively (for Yeasayer) in ‘Fingers Never Bleed’ as it’s one of the more accessible tracks but the tribal drumming is still apparent and there is a fantastic depth to the layers. You find yourself trying to reach deeper and deeper in attempt to peel away every extract of the tune before putting it all back together again. And that sets the precedent for the rest of the track. The experience is made more trippy thanks to the visuals for the videos which are done by Yoshi Sodeoka.
‘Devil and the Deed’ is one of the more memorable rumbles as the brooding bass thunders and choppy synths slice through, colourful percussive work adds extra flesh to it all. ‘Reagan’s Skeleton’ is another highlight and it encompasses the general compositional stance they took. It builds progressively with plenty of nods towards 80s synthpop before hitting you with the lyrical hook of “that’s Reagan’s skeleton”. I can understand why it might take time for some Yeasayer fans to get into the resonance of Fragrant World because their old albums were so alluringly vibrant while these tracks are more sinister in timbre. But if you are struggling, start off with ‘Demon Road’ as it sounds most similar to older material.
There are two features that your standard artists tend to have (massive generalisation I know) and they are, one: subsequent albums often fail to live up to expectations, and two: albums often contain a few crackers along with some deadwood. Yeasayer do neither. Although the progressive ‘2080’ could be put on repeat for days and ‘Madder Red’ could make any soulless ghoul tingle, this album really is a fragrant world with less forgettable tracks. But it doesn’t make All Hour Cymbals or Odd Blood obsolete but instead, Fragrant World sits nicely alongside them as a display of Yeasayer’s eclectic compositional craft. It’s darker, richer and more psychedelic. All I can imagine now is how their new live performances will flicker between the bright whirls of All Hour Cymbals, the eastern hums of Odd Blood and the murky nature of Fragrant World.
The entire album is below in a nice orderly YouTube playlist but fill your ears as much as possible before 8pm tomorrow. Oh and the album is due for official release on 21 August.