Yppah – Eighty One album review

Joe Corrales Jr. realized the full potential of a mixed genre sound with his 2012 album and third release under the moniker Yppah, Eighty One. Having named the album after his year of birth, Corrales (who was 31 when the album dropped earlier this year) seems to be more fascinated with life, or perhaps less jaded by reality, the older he gets. Packed full of playful instrumentation and dreamy vocals, Eighty One is an invigorating celebration of being alive. The album is an exhibit of Corrales’ style, and as a music listener who has grown tired of the monotonous indie electronic pop/rock sound of the past few years, the album is a refreshing display of a electronic, shoegazing trip hop sound.

Opening with children’s laughter that is reminiscent of MGMT’s “Kids,” the first track “Blue Shwinn,” slowly unfolds into an orchestra of percussion. The syncopated instruments play smoothly with floating synthesizers, and just before the music becomes to computer-based for my taste, the machines are replaced by electric guitar. It’s because of this gift, of knowing when to switch it up, that Yppah’s music remains without boundaries.

Dream/neo pop artist Anomie Belle lends her vocals to four of Eighty One‘s eleven tracks, and her contributions fit organically within the atmosphere of the album. Though her performance on “D. Song,” perhaps the darkest moment of the album, is eery enough to give the track a menacing quality, the song suggests transcendence over adversity and the overall tone of the album remains hopeful. Within the layered beats of “Three Portraits,” Belle’s heavily reverbed vocals weave delicately and sometimes incoherently within the synthesized soundscape, blending in with Corrales’ shoegaze-inspired tune.

My favorite moment of the album is in “Paper Knife,” a song that sums up Yppah’s perfect ratio of acoustic and electronic sounds. When an earthy section of tribal beats is suddenly accompanied by sleigh bells, followed by synthy “doo doo doo’s” and then smashing symbols, chaos is bound to ensue. But Corrales takes these elements, harnessing the best parts of hip hop, electronica and rock and roll, and somehow creates one cohesive and unequivocally wild anthem.

Eighty One accomplishes what Corrales set out but failed to do in Yppah’s first two albums. The record flows from one song to the next with frantic riffs, pensive silences, synthesized intervals and glorified beats. The album is soaked in optimism but doesn’t come across as naive. Eighty One revels in the mystery, ultimately offering listeners a hopeful take on the chaos of life.

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