Yeasayer forge weird masterpiece on Amen & Goodbye

Amen GoodbyeIn case you missed it, Peter Robinson wrote a rather excellent article earlier in the month discussing "post genre" bands, and the way in which millennials are acclimatised to consume all music without recourse to a genre-fixated cultural identity. It makes an awful lot of sense: as I write, a former member of One Direction is the cover star of this week's NME. It also got me thinking back to the first time I saw Yeasayer covered on Robinson's Popjustice blog. It seemed strange, then, that "O.N.E." could be critically adored on Pitchfork, while simultaneously being enjoyed next to Alphabeat.

Robinson also memorably described large swathes of that album (Odd Blood) as "a bit of a racket", and it's certainly their more esoteric bent that shines through on fourth album Amen & Goodbye. "I Am Chemistry" arrived as the launch single back in January, and it's still forging new neural pathways in my mind, snaking and twisting through lurid sci-fi nightmares like a virus. It's so batshit insane, frankly, that the beautiful children's choir section at 3.20 should barely register as a surprise, nor the honky-tonk piano that sees it out. Following it up, "Silly Me" is the closest thing here to aim for the pop jugular, wrapping a taut synth riff around something so profoundly 80s that there's almost a whiff of A Flock of Seagulls to it.

That's as easy as it gets though. At times, Amen & Goodbye feels almost consciously obtuse, jamming the record with slow-burn instrumentals, ambient explorations, and whatever the fuck "Child Prodigy" is, other than 59 seconds of someone applauding over a lute. "Gerson's Whistle" rubber-stamps the Bowie influence that runs throughout, an irresistible bassline leading the glam-funk workout towards Chris Keating's coolest lyric: "You know what they say - the troublemakers make the world go round." There's all sorts of trouble being made here, and it's often hard to process which of the intervals are interesting experiments, and which are overwrought drivel; "Prophecy Gun" and "Uma" both serve to build tension, though for each there's a meandering "Computer Canticle 1". But each time the listener returns, a new door opens. You begin to suspect that, regardless of how it will ever begin to be classified, Yeasayer may have gifted us a weird masterpiece.

Release: 1st April 2016, Mute Records


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