August 7, 2009

Review: YACHT - See Mystery Lights

On the fourth track from YACHT’s DFA label debut, Jona Bechtolt and Claire Evans sing in unison, “In these conservative times / We’re making conservative art/ And it’s boring, boring, boring, boring.” The lyrics, delivered over muted guitars and a choir of rolling tom-tom drums, repeat like a disaffected punk anthem before Bechtolt loosens the reigns and transforms it into a disconnected tangent of noise and rhythm under the repeated mantra, “You can live anywhere you want.”

Boring? I think not. With the excellent and bizarre See Mystery Lights, YACHT have produced an album immune to categorization; a computer-generated opus of beeps, synthetic bass lines, manipulated vocals and dissonant crevices and arcs that somehow meld into a wholly organic work. Lyrically tackling topics like religion and the occult, the record is an oft-humorous but intellectually invested endeavor as equally far out as it is accessible and hook-filled.

Asking on the opening tropicalia-infused “Ring The Bell,” “Will we go to heaven or will we go to hell? / It’s my understanding that neither or real" and continuing into to the Talking Heads- and Devo-esque funk of "Afterlife," the two songwriters probe and speculate on heavy issues with danceable beats, science-fiction worthy sound effects, and whip-smart lyrics:
It's not a place you go, it’s a place that comes to you / And it's not about who you know or who is in your heart / It may come as a surprise, but you are not alone / All that you have is not what you own.
See Mystery Lights is unique as a largely electronic dance album, as it not only sufficiently delivers its booty-shaking promise but also stimulates the listener into thought. While every song is not a theological exercise ("Summer Song," "We Have All We Ever Wanted"), it's refreshing to encounter a subject matter in pop music that hasn't become absurdly over-saturated (love, perhaps?).

On "Afterlife," Evans, who spends her spare time writing a science journal, muses "death is not the end of this song." And she's right. While music is the rare art form that exists in time and subsequently has a beginning, middle and end, her record with Bechtolt is one that will certainly live on after its inital death—with repeated plays.

YACHT - "The Afterlife" (from See Mystery Lights)

Related: Video for YACHT's "Psychic City (Voodoo City)"

YACHT - See Mystery Lights

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