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Yeasayer – Fragrant World album review

If I say that Yeasayer’s new release brings to mind images of a futuristic-electronic-R&B voyage through outer space with occasional stints in the desert—complete with Cubist wardrobe and/or perspective—then you’ll know that Fragrant World is anything but a banal experience.

Hailing from Brooklyn, New York, the quintet band formed in 2006 with members Chris Keating, Ira Wolf Tuton, Anand Wilder, Ahmed Gallab, and Jason Trammell. Performing at SXSW festival in 2007 led to the release of their first album All Hour Cymbals later that year, its contents blending psychedelic, soul, snap and Middle Eastern elements. After various appearances around the world—from the Paris metro, Lollapalooza, and Leeds Festival in 2008, to the Coachella Music Festival in 2010—the pop-influenced second album Odd Blood came forth in 2010. The 2-track EP End Blood followed in 2011, a brief work recorded during the Odd Blood sessions.

Fragrant World—the group’s third album—was released on August 21st 2012 under Secretly Canadian. Fans were treated to sneak peeks, as “Henrietta” and “Longevity” were both released as singles prior to the album’s drop date. “Devil and the Deed” was also premiered in May 2012 via performance on Conan O’Brien’s late show. Vinyl enthusiasts will surely have noted its limited 300 copies with its exclusive tracks of “Fragrant World” and “No Bones” remix present on the glitter-pressed vinyl.

Much like its predecessors, Fragrant World is a complex work of art, blending psychedelic, R&B, electronic and pop, with an occasional dab of subtle Middle Eastern sounds. “Henrietta”‘s R&B swag will pull you in then wind you down with its ethereal change of pace, making for a track that’s just as remarkably significant as the woman’s story it’s inspired by. “Devil and the Deed” is catchy with its futuristic space alien sound and romantic undertones while “Damaged Goods” channels a slower, moodier tone with its blend of electronic and Middle Eastern sounds. “Reagan’s Skeleton” is the album’s safest track with its more consistent 80’s-electronic vibe, which only serves to show that Yeasayer can deliver the unusual and the mainstream with equal talent.

Although Fragrant World is definitely unconventional and is likely to shake you up, it just might be the catchiest unconventional album you run into this year. The songs are pleasantly addicting and reflective of so many different genres that it might be hard not to find something in the album that resonates with you. Blasting through headphones optional yet highly recommended.

By Natacha Pavlov

Natacha Pavlov is an avid reader, writer, and traveler. Aside from eating ridiculous amounts of chocolate from her native Belgium, she can be found consuming large quantities of tea, falafel and lebneh in the lovely Bay Area.

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