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By John Norris @jonnynono
We won't say that Yeasayer's sharp right turn into pop-funk sounds on 2010's Odd Blood was the most shift in sound from albums one and two of any band in recent history (the morning benders and MGMT also come to mind), but it's right up there. It divided folks to be sure, but there is no question that "Ambling Alp", "O.N.E.", "Rome" et al brought considerably more folks to the Yeasayer party that those who enthusiastically embraced its weirder and decidedly more DIY debut All Hour Cymbals.
So what to do with exhibit C in the ongoing, unfolding saga of "Who is Yeasayer?" How about striking a third way, one that could be argued splits the difference between Cymbals' abandon and Blood's radio-friendly embrace? Or maybe the new Fragrant World isn't beholden to either of its predecessors. Maybe it's just its own kind of inviting. That's a big part of what we discuss with Anand Wilder, Ira Wolf Tuton and Chris Keating on this week's Face Time.
The conversation was shot inside Brooklyn's new Wythe Hotel, not far at all from the Greenpoint studio where Fragrant World was recorded--marking a return to an urban environment for the band that famously pulled an upstate New York retreat to create Odd Blood. The process, they tell us, was more exploratory this time, with a number of songs the result of throw-something-up-and-see-what-sticks jam sessions. It's a decidedly more stripped-down record than the last, and in terms of lyrics, while Odd Blood saw the guys turn more toward relationship-oriented material, Keating concedes that there was a return to songs with a broader, more social and political perspective--as evidenced in tracks like "Fingers Never Bleed", "No Bones" and "Reagan's Skeleton".
On the visual front, Yeasayer teamed with visual artist Yoshi Seoda, to create kaleidoscopic "vignettes" for each of the tracks on Fragrant World, and you'll see the one for what may be the record's brightest, most immediate song, "Henrietta". Music and conversation this week on Face Time from a band whose DNA is clearly all about movement, not repeating itself, and striving to go new places--Yeasayer.