Album review: Yeasayer - Amen & Goodbye
PUBLISHED: 08:00 11 April 2016
The unclassifiable leftfield collective come up trumps reviving the concept of album as art form.
The Brooklyn outsiders’ fourth LP treads a very different path to 2012’s avant-garde electro predecessor, Fragrant World.
This time around they’re closer, if anything, to the synth-pop of their 2012 breakthrough record Odd Blood.
After pinballing between genres, Amen & Goodbye sees the trio somewhat romantically pursue the album as an art form in itself.
The result is remarkably cohesive for what turned out to be a two-and-a-half-year project; a mesh of hundreds of ideas, instruments and voices, analogue and digital, draft and redraft. With parts recorded in a remote farm and producer Joey Waronker’s NYC studio, Amen & Goodbye meditates (at an obtuse angle) on religion and the search for meaning while delighting in the intricate, the overlapped and interwoven.
Indeed, fans of esoteric alt-pop will find much to love here.
Dead Sea Scrolls splices the bouncy jolts of alt-folksters Field Music with the jaunty lope and sunny brass of Madness. The gentle reverie and sway of Gerson’s Whistle is a highlight, conjured with harmonies, handclaps and an impressive ensemble of instruments woven through a deceptively simple-sounding melody.
Prophecy Gun sports soothing harmonies, reverb and spluttering, abrasive synth samples in the style of AM radio distortion - a kind of folktronica take on late-era Beatles with a dash of Sigur Ros.
And Half Asleep evokes a mystic, gauzy atmosphere with a rough hessian weave of acoustic and electric guitars, woodblock, music box, melodica, drum and tape machines, vocal duties shared between Anand Wilder’s clarion delivery and guest Suzzy Roche’s enigmatic, floating vocal reminiscent of Stevie Nicks.
An enchanting sonic tapestry that, almost against the odds, is more compelling than you’d believe.
Album: Amen & Goodbye
Label: (Mute records)
Rating: 3/5 stars