Yeasayer's third album is filled with synth hooks, vocal refrains and just about everything else from their previous two albums. It's a statement about Yeasayer that is both worrying and displeasing. I never took to 2007's 'All Hour Cymbals'. I did however enjoy one or two singles spawned from that release, see 'Wait For The Summer'. Three years later and 'Odd Blood' surfaced. Initial listens reveal Odd Blood to be somewhat of a cheesy pop album. Several more listens will uncover a world of pop music that will never be played on mainstream radio, but should be played loud and persistently. Tracks like 'ONE' and 'Ambling Arp' set the tone of the album. The fast paced synth heavy tunes were reminiscent of Animal Collective, just far more stripped back, weaker and less experimental. It's a surprise that 2012's 'FragrantWorld' fails to deliver the goods, and I’m going to tell you why.
Beyond the vocal shrieks, the mass layers of synthesizers and random instrumentation, Fragrant World just isn’t enjoyable. Tracks like 'Fingers Never Bleed' and 'Longevity' do little to settle the listener. Pounding bass, right sided synths with little effect, drum machines and artificial riffs are just some of the things that instantly putt me off. This isn't an album that grows; it's an album that can be instantly dismissed. Three / five listens down the line and my opinion is the same, Fragrant World is a messy piece of rushed instrumentation, with no improvement in any department.
'Blue Paper' continues with the random instrumentation which baffles me as to why it's here. There's something wrong with this track. The spring reverberated synth does little over the chorus which offers a few seconds of 'catchy' pop material. The guitar solo is... Disappointing. This just isn't exciting, and I want to be excited with this kind of 'psych' pop music, otherwise what’s the point?
'Henrietta' does have a respective melody and I would put half my appreciation of Fragrant World towards this track if I could do it that way, unfortunately that’s not the way it works. The synth lines and layered soundscapes work a treat on Henrietta, but it never really sticks in my mind post-listen. A big factor in a good album is having something that can be enjoyed and remembered, Henrietta just isn't that memorable. 'Devil And TheDeed' and 'No Bones' leave me with nothing but a waste of six minutes. It's a harsh truth, but these tracks just don't belong. The horrific vocals fail to match the industrual-esque synth loops on No Bones, while Devil And The Deed fails all round in its ability to entertain. 'Reagan's Skeleton' is an improvement, but not by much. It's exhausting trying to pick out just one interesting element to this track, because it's all been done before... In the 1980's. Odd Blood was a rather modern album, whereas Fragrant World is an aged, frail 80's synth pop album with bad vocals and a very small target audience.
Fragrant World is not a 2012 album. It doesn't fit. it doesn't sound new or interesting in the slightest. When an album is viewed as unnecessary, you know something is wrong. That's why I'm worried about Yeasayer. What's next? What direction will they take and what genre of music will they steal on the next release? Three albums and they're still monkeying around with synths and vocal effects to no avail. The 70's/80's synth pop artists actually had reasoning in their sound and direction. I may not like those artists, but I can appreciate their presence in music history. Yeasayer's Fragrant World is instantly forgotten, and tracks like 'Demon Road', 'Damaged Goods' and 'Folk Hero Shtick' are at the top of that list. The back album tracks were always going to be lacking in, well everything... The final track 'Glass of The Microscope' is a little bit better. It's an improvement on the previous three with the guitar work. I absolutely hate the vocals and the synth riff. Moog's have never sounded worse than on this album.
Fragrant World leaves before it arrives. The experimentation of Odd Blood is all but gone. I'm the audience and I'm not impressed in the slightest with this album. Secretly Canadian (Yeasayer's label) need to take a hard look at this album and question its validity. It's not an improvement, it's a complete U-turn. The little moments that impress me are forgotten amidst the hard synths. It's not the worst album of 2012 by a long way, but it's the most disappointing for me.