07 10

Yeasayer Amen & Goodbye Mute

Besides that ominous title, there’s been no out-and-out indication from Yeasayer that this fourth full-length is meant to be any kind of swansong; on the off-chance that it is, though, then the already lofty stakes for Amen & Goodbye have been raised further still.

The Brooklyn outfit seemed to have the world at their feet when their 2009’s sophomore Odd Blood tapped so incisively into the off-kilter pop climate of the time; they took all the best bits of Animal Collective, MGMT and TV on the Radio and crafted them into something that sounded indelibly all their own. The 2012 follow-up Fragrant World, though, disappointed; it sounded weirdly restrained, to the point of being unremarkable.

That’s the one thing you suspect neither the band or their fans will tolerate, and on Amen & Goodbye, they do an altogether better job of pulling off what they were aiming for last time out; a mature collection of leftfield pop songs, that round off some of the garish edges of their earlier output without eschewing a sense of fun. There’s new territory explored; wild jazz licks on Dead Sea Scrolls and a switch from an industrial groove to a children’s choir on the swiftly-fluctuating I Am Chemistry are cases in point. Flashes of introspection and reserve are welcome, too – especially on the quietly simmering Uma – but some of the album’s more straightforward moments are crying out for the ramshackle charm of old; as on Fragrant World, it feels like frontman Chris Keating never truly shakes off his inhibitions. Even so, Amen & Goodbye still feels like a return to form from a band clearly still in flux; they’re heading back towards an upswing, so here’s hoping the title won’t prove prophetic.