The upcoming 3rd studio album by Yeasayer, titled Fragrant World, has been one of my most anticipated of the year. This was kicked into an even higher gear upon the band releasing a couple tracks from World over the last few weeks. Once I heard "Henrietta" for the 1st time I was enamored and borderline ecstatic. Then came "Longevity," which is another very solid and catchy tune and it seemed like August 21st was going to take forever to get here.
We are now in an age of constant internet leaks of anticipated albums and this includes Yeasayer's Fragrant World. Apparently, the band caught wind of this impending leak and decided to preempt it with a pre-release of their album for the fans through an internet scavenger hunt announced on Wednesday, August 1st. They scattered links to each of the album's songs, with the accustomed visually stunning videos for each, across the interweb for fans to find. Many of the music blogs compiled these songs in one handy location so we could preview the album in its entirety. I give many thanks to Stereogum for providing me with the auditory bliss that has ensued to start the month of August. The only kicker....at 8pm tonight (Friday, August 3rd), the songs will all be taken down and we'll have to wait until the 21st again....or the aforementioned leak.
Fragrant World is the follow up to the band's 2010 sophomore "breakout" album Odd Blood. The Brooklyn-based band has come a long way since their debut 2007 release All Hour Cymbals while still maintaining pieces of that "worldly music" vibe they started with. Since, there has been a progression more to the electronic/synthy styles. Combining these elements with the initial self-described "Middle Eastern-psych-snap-gospel" style, Yeasayer has found themselves a very unique sound in a world where a lot of bands are sounding like retreads.
Opening track "Fingers Never Bleed" kicks the album off with a clap/snap beat that gets you moving and excited for what is yet to come. It slowly builds into a catchy tune with an addictive chorus that will haunt you throughout the album. For me, this was only slowed down because tracks 2 and 4, the previously mentioned "Longevitiy" and "Henrietta," respectively. Most of this has to do with having heard them many times and each having their own variation of getting-stuck-in-my-brain-edness. Nonetheless, "...Bleed" is hands down a standout opening track and will surely be quite stellar live.
There is still something special about "Henrietta" as it has been a borderline obsession for me since I first heard it. It starts off with an up-tempo pounding flow and then it goes into a cocoon for a bit before emerging in this beautiful mellow form with the longing, and an almost sadness, in the repetition of "Oh Henrietta, we can make love forever."
"Reagan's Skeleton" and "Demon Road" are a couple of other wicked tracks at first listen. The former, builds on a synthy-electroness before an almost rap-like flow kicks in and the music expands into a trance-like state of awesomeness. The chorus is very much in tune with an evil twin of the 80's and 90's pop music scene. The latter, blatantly shows off what reports had told us before that the band was going to inflict some R&B influences into this album. There is a legit futuristic R&B vibe going here and with slightly more of an emphasis on the R, as opposed to the B. Not sure what Marvin Gaye would say though....
Overall, I am that much more ethused for this album and especially being able to listen to it at my leisure without the prospectus of a looming deadline where the songs will be taken away. Yeasayer has once again done a fantastic job in putting something together that can live up to, and potentially succeed, the hype behind an impending album. In my anticipatory state, I know I put a lot of unnecessary pressure on Fragrant World once I knew it was in the works and I have not been disappointed after my few listens through. There is a darker vibe with some of the tunes, that is for sure. This brings me back some to the 2nd half of Cymbals.
Now, I am looking forward to September 6th when I get to see them play for the 3rd time!
As the band closed their statement regarding the scavenger hunt....."Please remember, it's fun to share, but more important to support." So when contemplating whether to pirate this album or buy it....you know what to do.
**UPDATE: You can now stream the album in full on NPR
Check out the 2 songs that will still be available after 8pm on August 3rd below.
"Longevity" (with lyrics)