Yeasayer (photo by Eliot Lee Hazel, PR, Mute Records)
Amen & Goodbye
Over the course of a decade, Brooklyn's Yeasayer has established itself as an ambitious team of pop innovators, bringing together elements of electronica, dance music, progressive rock, and world music. The trio couples this mix with odd lyrical imagery, vivid melodies, and pristine vocals, so any attempt to define Yeasayer is an exercise in futility.
On their fourth studio album, Amen & Goodbye, Yeasayer's Chris Keating, Anand Wilder and Ira Wolf Tuton have again altered their ever-evolving musical landscape. Amen & Goodbye, the follow up to 2012’s Fragrant World, finds their reputation as musical chemists very much intact. In what could be considered a slightly contradictory decision, the band chose to eschew digital methods in favor of recording their new album to tape. They worked in the rural environs of the Catskills region in upstate New York with drummer Joey Waronker (Beck, Atoms For Peace) who also lent his abilities as the album’s co-producer.
The fruit of Yeasayer’s labor is a loosely themed, futuristic adventure that touches on science, religion, and personal relationships. Musically, Amen & Goodbye merges together techno and New Wave rhythms, electronic pulses, celestial voices, synths, samplers, sequencers, mellotrons, theremins, bouzoukis, berimbaos and other assorted oddities. Guests include Suzzy Roche on vocals, guitarist Delicate Steve's Steve Marion, and pianist Joe McGinty, founder of the Loser’s Lounge collective.
Amen & Goodbye opens with serene Beatlesesque harmonies in the introductory “Daughters Of Cain,” before it sharply veers into scientific territory with “I Am Chemistry,” which refers to digoxin, DDT, sulfur dichloride, and the nerve agent sarin. A classically-inspired motif is present in the brief interlude, “Child Prodigy.” The emotionally-charged "Silly Me" bounces along at a playfully catchy pace while “Uma” is as haunting as it is heartfelt.
Amen & Goodbye is like a sonic hallucination: always experimental, often cerebral, and sometimes playfully strange. It’s the work of an intelligent band that enjoys challenging itself and conjuring up new ways of reinvention.