Words by Brian Salvatore

When I was younger, it seemed that many bands started off their careers shooting for the radio, creating poppy tunes that had some edge, but would make sense coming out of a car stereo at full volume. Eventually, after some success, they would ‘mature,’ turn more angular or dissonant, and disown their earlier, more mainstream records.

Yeasayer, like many bands of their relative generation, initially went the other way. After All Hour Cymbals, a debut record that was knotty and dense, their next few records added more of a pop sheen and melodies took even more prominence in the mix. Amen & Goodbye, their fourth record, is, perhaps, their poppiest yet, and delivers a strong record full of singable melodies and endlessly curious arrangements.

On first listen, the album flies by, with each track presenting a strong pop sensibility before revealing some really interesting arrangements bubbling under. The first half of the record, in particular, would work well at a party or a summer BBQ – each track is pleasant and fun, especially first single “I am Chemistry.” That track is followed by “Silly Me,” perhaps the record’s strongest melody, and by that point, you think you know what’s coming.

But then the album gets weird and, in my opinion, gets great.

“Prophecy Gun,” track 6, starts off as a quiet meditation, and builds towards a shimmery, glorious ending, and begins the record’s transition into something far more wide reaching and less immediate. “Child Prodigy” is a faux-harpsichord piece, full of applause and little else. In fact, from “Prophecy Gun” until the penultimate “Cold Night,” percussion takes a back seat to texture and vocal harmonies. “Cold Night” acts as a triumphant climax to the record, but is far more in line with the first half of the record rather than the more intimate and hushed back end.

More than anything else, this record shows that Yeasayer is a band that can do many, many things, and that any preconceptions you have about them should be tossed out with the trash. Each record is an interesting step forward for a band that is already ahead of the curve.

‘Amen & Goodbye’
Mute Records
© April 1st, 2016


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