Yeasayer returns to ’80s sound in latest album “Fragrant World”

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Yeasayer, a band that broke out among indie circles with their moderately successful album “Odd Blood,” recently released another album entitled “Fragrant World.” In contrast to their previous releases, this LP seems to borrow from the influences of popular 1980s alternative artists, including Depeche Mode and Tears for Fears, that are easily traceable on nearly every song. 

Start to finish, the album provides much more continuity than previous releases, sounding less like an assortment of random songs placed in succession on an album, and more like a coherent record in which thought was put into the style of music and the order of the track listings.

Still very psychedelic and experimental, “Fragrant World” offers a more successfully woven quality to the overall composition of the album. The track “Henrietta” will almost certainly become a big hit on college radio stations, with a very catchy keyboard hook that serves as a refrain for the first half of the song. It breaks out into a synth progression halfway through that couples with Chris Keating’s mechanized vocals, and slowly builds with different elements of synthesizer and keyboard, drums and bass until the end of the song.  

My personal favorite track on the album is “The Devil and the Deed.” It’s difficult to break this song apart because there are so many different things going on. The first verse is dark with random sound effects thrown into the background. Yeasayer’s use of synthesizers and sound effects is spectacular when it comes to adding ambience to the song. The one thing that strings everything together and makes this track stand out is the melody of Keating’s vocals, instead of having an instrumental chord progression.

“Reagan’s Skeleton” is a track that I can’t help but envision being played in a 1980s dance club. This song not only references an important ’80s political figure, but its delayed guitar and pulsing synthesizer are sure to make any retro music fan’s foot tap. The guitar sounds like something off of a Genesis or A Flock of Seagulls record. 

An odd problem of this album is its sometimes-dissonant nature and overuse of synthesizer. The track “No Bones” has a dissonant melody that is just noticeable enough to bother me when I listen to it. I will say that it is made up for in the chorus, although, in general, I find the song hard to listen to the whole way through. Considering there is only one track that is hard to listen to, it is a huge improvement over “Odd Blood.”

For a fan of experimental music, I would give it four out of five stars. For someone who is more interested in popular music, I would only give it two out of five stars.

Joseph Wenberg is a sophomore in journalism. Please send comments to opinion@kstatecollegian.com.

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