Once upon a time (only a nano-second before this here summation made it to the pages of DiS), searching Google for “Yeasayer + ‘tribal psychedelic folk’” returned nothing. But it’s so damn obvious – the four-piece project it, ooze it, live it. Whilst I’m here, I might as well add ‘tribal psyche folk’, ‘tribal psycho folk’ and ‘tribeadelic folk’ to the mix, just for the sake of semantics. But that’s beside the point – seeing their material expedite live is like simultaneously existing in a state of zen at one end and manically free love at the other. All Hour Cymbals (review) in your eyeballs as well as your eardrums is an astonishing prospect - it made me want to instigate a larger scale, even more extended and pluralistic Peter Gabriel/Kate Bush embrace. On a trampoline the size of Brooklyn, or something.
Though your being here reading this partially disqualifies the need to go on, I’ll carry on mostly unabashedly. The fact is thus: no amount of nauseating graphics can take away from just how involved Anand Wilder, Chris Keating, Ira Wolf Tuton and Luke Fasano are in their own right as well as as part of a conjoined entity. The ethos is akin to that of a call to arms - an immersing, convulsing, intricate yet still loose sense of desperation. And when Yeasayer take to the stage, aural gravity is defied.
Unlike the album’s psyched-up/head-first/spaced-out ordering, the live performance re-jigs the tempo and dynamic in the only way it sees fit. Which almost inevitably shows up just what makes Yeasayer so marvellous. Disjointed? Yes. A shambles? Far from it. ‘Forgiveness’ comes directly after ‘2080’, turning the album’s vigour on its head. The sense of invigoration runs clear throughout but it’s more than that, far more. There’re imperfections, sure – like how invisible Ira Wolf Tuton’s bass feels quite a lot of the time. And just how much reverb the sound engineers splice ‘Red Cave’ with, or equally how little is made of those haunting lower synth drones on ‘No Need To Worry’. But the flaws are exactly what makes this performance so special – the flaws and the dichotomies. The lyrics dance the fine line between icily pragmatic and warmly embracing; the visual clash between Chris Keating’s tic-infested, almost collapsing performance and Luke Fasano’s Tarzan-evoking drumming should be too polarising. But the crucial fact is that it’s exhausting rather than exhaustive, a jubilant aural collision.
In terms of where they sit amidst the currently mindblowing Brooklyn output, Yeasayer are less all-out than MGMT (an oxymoron of sorts, if I’m preaching to the converted) and denser, warmer than Vampire Weekend. In terms of aural counterparts, they lie somewhere between Panda Bear, The Incredible String Band, Fleetwood Mac, Talk Talk, TV On The Radio and Pink Floyd. Isn’t that enough? No? Well here’s yet another crux – the songs are very together and oh-so-separate at the same time. Like the best football teams. They stop, start, stop, briefly regain focus, start, talk only on a rare occasion and end. Both within themselves and within the set, if you get the drift.
You know what else is even more exciting? The fact that this is only an album’s worth of gig. At the risk of not accepting things for what they are, it’s got to be acknowledged that in a few years time, Yeasayer are going to be boundlessly prolific. I reckon what they mean by 2080 may just be brought forward a few years if they have anything to do with it – it’s their future and we’ve been born into it. Don’t sleep, savour the marvel.