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It might seem as though there was a lot of baggage for Yeasayer in approaching album number three. But to hear them talk about it--as they do extensively with us this week on Face Time--they want to vary things up each and every time they make a record. And as much as possible, they put out of their heads the chatter surrounding their first two wildly divergent releases, All Hour Cymbals and Odd Blood and just make the most interesting record they could in 2011-12.
That record is Fragrant World -- recorded in their backyard of Brooklyn, mixed in a London winter. borne of more improvisational jams than the last time around, and featuring some of the band's most likeable and hypnotic tracks to date, including "Longevity", "Fingers Never Bleed" and especially "No Bones."
The pundits seem to approve, though it's mixed. Here's a sampling of what they're saying:
Drowned in Sound: "Give it time – which it unquestionably needs – and Fragrant World is by far the band’s most immersive and consistent record, a buzzingly exotic mass of nervy future soul and paranoid disco that grows in stature with each listen, the initial suspicion that the band have gone a bit nuts with the auto-tune slowly fading as the senses become accustomed."
The Independent on Sunday: Fragrant Word has killer synthpop tunes buried within it, but too often you wonder how much better a record this would have been if they quit dicking around and just gave you the song. When they do – the rippling liquidity of "Henrietta", for example – it's wondrous to behold.
AV Club: If the group is through with flourishes of campfire gospel or whatever else, more power to it. But the aloof, introspective outlook isn’t enough to fill the void left behind, nor is it enough to save Fragrant World from sounding somewhat generic.
Under the Radar: Keating has suggested that the title Fragrant World is an acerbic reference to "the dystopian lack of flavor in our dystopian world." And Yeasayer capture this seemingly ineffable fear, dread, and paranoia with wide-eyed clarity throughout this astounding album.
To the right of their debut, and the left of their second? Is this the album on which Yeasayer got it just right? You decide. Dive into a new and Fragrant World.