Yeasayer’s Fragrant World
Words by Keanan Barbour-March
Last weekend, I had a road trip from Philly to visit some family, then a long leg to the shore for vacation – providing me more than enough time to listen to Yeasayer’s Fragrant World in its entirety more than a few times through. I’m still coming back to it, with some of those hooks stuck in my mind, and other songs I just cant seem to get past – for good and bad. Bad because the beats are stuck in my mind; good because, well… they’re great.
This is one of those albums I listened to, from the mountains of Pennsylvania through the Jersey Shore, the dark night and hot afternoons of six lane highways.
Be prepared to be taken for a ride at about 1:25 into the opener, “Fingers Never Bleed.” Utilizing almost-club beats with synthed horns and a lyric melody that flows in and out of the instrumentation, it sets the stage early for what proves to be a solid album through and through.
The 1990s keyboard ‘tubes’ plus plucked-string sounding intro of “Longevity” delivers you solidly into the second track, which will quickly have you bobbing your head like an owl – which might sound funny, but just you wait. Sub-bass notes and accented lyric hooks you right through the ending beats
– which once again, surprises and delights.
As much as the album is a solid demonstration of music quality and similarity, each track has its own style and influences. About midway through the album, “Devil and the Dead” throws some techno electronica with what reminds me of rock opera lines with direction similar to something you’d hear from David Bowie. I could probably write about every song on this album but I’ll save you the reading – just pick it up.
Themes carry on throughout Fragrant World – I’d suggest the middle of the album has more of an alternative electronic vibe, while the first few tracks more that cool, laid back beats to get you relaxed and ‘in’ the zone – which is abruptly but pleasantly stopped with an in-betweener track, “Henrietta.” A few throw in almost Steve Winwood beats and TLC goodness. The last few tracks give a great outro that somewhat combine the first two themes into an experimental make you wondering where you’ve just been – wait for the closing minute and a quarter “Glass of the Microscope,” the album’s closer.
The most cohesive example from Yeasayer as of yet, Fragrant World is an album you’ll listen to front to end and back again. Thank goodness for road-trips, canceled plans and starry nights, and sunny afternoons of long drives alone in my car – Yeasayer’s Fragrant World makes for a great companion.
Listen to Yeasayer’s Fragrant World on NPR to stream individual tracks or the album in its entirety.