Yeasayer | Fragrant World

Secretly Canadian (2012)
By RYAN REED  |  August 15, 2012
3.5 3.5 Stars

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To promote their excellent third album, Fragrant World, Brooklyn's resident art-pop weirdos sent their fans on a psychedelic audio-visual Internet scavenger hunt. Coincidentally (or maybe not), Fragrant World is a psychedelic scavenger hunt itself. On their 2010 breakthrough, Odd Blood, Yeasayer streamlined many of their freakier sonic quirks in favor of colors and choruses more universally vibrant. Fragrant World is equally melodic, but its hooks are twisted and sculpted around some of the trio's wackiest textures to date. Opener "Fingers Never Bleed" is a terrific example: Chris Keating croons an instantly infectious, Prince-esque vocal melody over beats built from human voices and synth lines that resemble de-tuned saxophones or moaning elephants. The masterful "Devil and the Deed" could have been assembled, brick by brick, from video-game samples and children's toys. "Longevity" unfurls an R&B slow-jam groove with blaring synth-bass and dizzying hi-hats — K Ishibashi's country-funk violin solo is simply icing on an otherwise badass cake. On rare occasion, the fascinating sounds threaten to swallow the melodies — like on "No Bones," a nonetheless delectable noise-pop whirlwind that feels like being punched in the face by a Moog. Yeasayer remain the new-millennium kings of studio manipulation, and it's downright jaw-dropping that they're able to experiment so wildly in the context of such catchiness. Fragrant World feels like a victory lap.

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