words by Alex Milne

Amen & Goodbye is collaborative and multifaceted, with sounds that span from sparse and careful to lush and emotive. Like a collection of fables, every song on this album tells a story.

Taking four years to reach fruition, Amen & Goodbye changed up the usual songwriting formulae. The band took themselves to an isolated farm in upstate New York to record in analog. Part way through recording the roof leaked and destroyed a large amount of their recordings. The band was forced to take what was salvageable back to New York and employ a producer (something they had never done before) to piece together what they had into an album.

Keeping the album flowing, Yeasayer have thrown in short, less than one minute, tracks that work as introduction (‘Daughters of Cain’), intermission (‘Computer Canticle 1’) and outro (‘Amen & Goodbye’). ‘I am Chemistry’ is one of their stronger tracks. It is percussive and choral – written from the perspective of an atom. This one sounds a bit like Gypsy and the Cat. ‘Silly Me’ reminds me of Architecture in Helsinki with it’s cute and funky pop, emotive vocals and unusual sound effects. It draws back to ‘Ambling Alp’ from their previous album Odd Blood. ‘Half Asleep’ is deeply instrumental with ambient effects and female chorals. ‘Dead Sea Scrolls’ sounds like Spoon meets Cat Empire. Their use brass is refreshing and the eerie two minute solo demonstrates the musicality and expanding creativity of Yeasayer.

‘Prophecy Gun’ is slow and atmospheric, building layers of sound with discordant melodies. ‘Child Prodigy’ is another short interval track, played on the harpsichord. ‘Divine Simulacrum’ is one of my favourite tracks with its sliding vocals and sexy, drawn out melodies. ‘Gerson’s Whistle’ layers many voices and moves at a steady pace. ‘Uma’ is a lullabye and ‘Cold Night’ tugs at your heartstrings.

The sound that Yeasayer has borne is the result of a lengthy process of creation. The studio they recorded in was full of exotic string and natural reverb that inspired them to record new sounds and add complexity to their music. Reflecting on the old rock of Queen and Sgt Pepper, and combining with modern pop and otherworldly sounds, this is one of the best albums I’ve heard so far this year.

Rating: ★★★★

Amen & Goodbye will hit the shelves on April 1st through Mute Records 

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