The Student Playlist

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REVIEW: Yeasayer – ‘Amen & Goodbye’ (Mute)

yeasayer_amen_and_goodbyeby John Tindale

It’s been four years since the release of Yeasayer’s last album Fragrant World, a wonderfully eclectic album which balanced experimental electronics with a pop sound to dazzling effect. But, much like in Yeasayer’s other work, there was always that feeling of more to come, another gear to go through – unfortunately for Amen & Goodbye, the group’s fourth, this is a feeling that will remain for at least one more record.

Recorded live for the first time as a band in the studio, the record begins with promise as the excellent lead single ‘I Am Chemistry’ combines the excellent vocal of Suzie Roche, of The Roches, with a typically psychedelic edge to dazzling affects. Follow-up track ‘Silly Me’ provides the most obvious pop song of the band’s career to date (not to say that this is a conventional track by any means). But often the album falls slightly short, if not flat on its face; ‘Dead Sea Scrolls’ serves no purpose whatsoever in the record apart from to kill any momentum Amen & Goodbye had already built. The barbershop quartet vocal harmonies border on the edge of ludicrous, especially after following the exuberant ‘Half Asleep’ which midway through erupts into a beautiful concoction of angelic vocal harmony and South Asian inspired horns.

Elsewhere there is the delicate ‘Prophecy Gun’ serves as a wonderful reminder that simplicity can still result in excellent pop as electronics and guitars are built upon slowly before fading into the distance. The Central African drums of ‘Divine Simulacrum’ is another example of Yeasayer working in a variety of genres to create their unique sound. The vulnerable ‘Uma’ sees the best use of the Theremin since the theme tune to ‘Midsomer Murders’ but again the sound of the record is ruined by a needless 36-second title track which adds nothing and detracts from the listen.

Throughout Amen & Goodbye Yeasayer prove themselves to be distinctive and potentially fantastic pop stars again, but at times they are their own worst enemy and for all the excellence of ‘Uma’, ‘I Am Chemistry’ and ‘Prophecy Gun’, there are the title track or ‘Dead Sea Scrolls’. Talented Yeasayer undoubtedly are but until they can achieve a level of consistency they will remain one of pop’s most frustrating acts. (7/10)

Listen to Amen & Goodbye here, and tell us what you think below!

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