Wednesday, October 21, 2015

YACHT - I Thought The Future Would Be Cooler Review

Despite their often blunt lyricism that tackles progressive topics with brute force YACHT's music, when at its best, remains characteristically jubilant to listeners. On their most note-worthy LP, See Mystery Lights, the first to feature Claire Evans as a full-fledged member, they mocked religious zealots with the tactlessness of a smug, recently enlightened atheist. Whether they’re in on the gag or oblivious to their egoistic presentation remains mute, as what made that LP rewarding lied in its production, fruitful New Age Disco Pop with a happy-go-lucky Psychedelic edge that launched songs like ‘Psychic City’ into cult-like status amongst Indie connoisseurs. Shangri-La attempted to catch lightning in a bottle but lacked the intrinsic pompousness needed to ignore the vanilla-like concepts. And now, with an unrelenting push of vanity over liberal ideas, YACHT returns with their most befitting title to date, I Thought The Future Would Be Cooler. It lacks the whimsical charm of its ancestors when they flew off the rails, risks too many problematic endeavors, and feels robotically tied to instrumentation that feels forced and discordant to Evan’s hot topics. 

I Thought The Future starts with a rapid-fire bang drilled and ripened over eight disco-filled minutes though, on ‘Miles & Miles,’ one of their highest points to date. Its become rudimentary that YACHT selectively place one afterburner of a song in their LP, from ‘It’s Boring / You Can Live Anywhere You Want’ to ‘Tripped & Fell In Love.’ These platforms for experimenting on a grander scale often work solely off their existence, as an album filled with such tracks would stale quickly. In their latest exploration they focus on progression, evolving much like LCD Soundsystem’s standout tracks while critiquing the human approach to maintaining our giant blue home. Often times, and I wouldn't have expected anything less, Evans makes broad statements regarding humanities faults and our obsessions with technology despite things societally going downhill. She's never wrong per-say, but on songs like the title track, the straight-faced descriptors come off as trite and meaningless, their behind-the-scenes additions on don't help sway arguments conveying them as anything but self-conceited swellheads. That's their shtick though, so the absurdism in sweeping statements regarding societal issues may be hollowed out, but for listeners of YACHT who are already well aware of the future's bleakness this is more just preaching to the choir.

There are times when the group flashes their existence as being slightly out-of-touch, namely on the abysmal 'Ringtone,' a track that for reasons more than just the content should have never been made. It's nearly impossible to merely bring up social media interaction in music without being cheesy, but revolving an entire song around such an idea is laughable, the chorus ("ringtone! ringtone! I'm calling look at your phone") does nothing to better the situation, only causing shook heads. And while 'War On Women' sarcastically mocks those who feel equality is already reached the execution of such topic is lackluster, especially in comparison to other works this year, like Jenny Hval's 'That Battle Is Over,' which flourishes using the same platform. There's a lot of times too where, even when the lyrics aren't noticeably bland or bothersome, the vocal effects YACHT uses dissuades foreseeable enjoyment. Like the chorus on 'Hologram,' which poorly spells out the title, holding on the M to nauseating levels, or 'The Entertainment' that emphasizes basic decibel range you'd goof around with on free production software. A lot of the production works in this way, and while they largely fall flat, some risks end up working.

Apart from the opener there’s three tracks in particular where the risks pay off, ‘Matter,’ ‘Don’t Be Rude,’ and ‘I Wanna Fuck You Till I’m Dead.’ While the latter might be the most crudely-based song here, it somehow functions, the tongue-in-cheek reaches such levels I can’t help but fall in line with the act. Before the electronic takeover occurs ‘I Wanna Fuck You’ sounds, oddly enough, like 90’s era Wilco a la Summerteeth. It swoons, glides, and never takes itself seriously, as Evans bounces gleefully over her most graceful singing before dropping out to impurely state the title, a moment that’s predictable but fun. ‘Matter’ initially doesn’t make an impression but it’s fun-loving vocals match the production, despite the grime lyrics, as I Thought The Future’s best chorus blossoms thanks to a beaming sing-a-long. And ‘Don’t Be Rude,’ while not the best here, may be the most revealing as to YACHT’s perception amongst their fans. In it Evans critiques herself for being lonely, stoned, and above all else, phony, feeling left out amongst the world over her obvious weirdness. Unfortunately the chorus trails off any potential memorability as it quickly turns into a Teen Bop dandy (“don’t be rude, don’t tell me there’s no face on the moon.”)

YACHT’s I Thought The Future Would Be Cooler is a frustrating listen. Obviously, with constantly focused political topics, observable smugness, and reeling Indietronica, many will hate the duo from Portland. And even for some, like myself, who agree with many of the sentiments, the music has just too many problems to ignore. Sonically, it’s benign, and for an album and genre that’s intent on being the focus that’s not a good thing. Apart from some interesting moments and catchy set pieces, easily created thanks to SynthPop’s bubblegum synthesizers, much of YACHT’s sixth LP merely cruises by off unimpressed sounds. There are highs, and the content is bound to draw attention, whether good or bad, serious or funny, but critically it has faults. It’s ironic, but YACHT’s always been at their best when they deviated from the liberal ideas and fell into loony Psychedelic chaos. Unfortunately for them, and us, nothing here, besides ‘Miles & Miles,’ derails, making it their most cohesive album to date, but also their worst. 

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