After the weirdly exciting, and kinda surprising, pop detour of 2010’s Odd Blood, the Brooklyn-based Yeasayer make a slight return to their more experimental, psych-pop roots on their third album. But they haven’t completely abandoned the playful, accessible hooks and tribal thumps that made Odd Blood‘s “Ambling Alp” and “O.N.E.” so irresistible. Songs like “Fingers Never Bleed,” “Longevity,” and “Henrietta” skirt along electronic lines that pulse with indie-rock currents. At times, they dip into a nostalgic pool on Fragrant World, recalling ’80s-era Depeche Mode and other synth-pop trailblazers; other times they target the future with robotic vocals and factory-hissing beats. Fragrant World doesn’t have any of the where-did-that-come-from? moments that made Odd Blood so exhilarating. But it’s still weird and wild, and only a little bit dull.
On their first album in four years, the London quartet still finds reasons to work in all those cool ’80s and ’90s bands they’re influenced by. So you’ll hear some Cure in “So He Begins to Lie,” Joy Division-style minor-chord brooding in “3X3,” and Blur’s jagged rhythm stutters in “Octopus.” You’ll also hear bigger and more forceful guitars ringing throughout Four, which loses its identity about halfway through. But that’s always been the case.
It’s been seven years since British goofballs the Darkness released an album. Not that it matters, since they’ve always sounded stuck in 1979 anyway. Their Spinal Tap schtick wears thin after a few songs, but you should still check out Justin Hawkins’ falsetto-screeched “every man, woman, and child wants to suck my cock” from “Every Inch of You” and the metal cover of Radiohead’s “Street Spirit.” Yes, that Radiohead.
The Midsummer Station
Adam Young opens his bedroom project to collaborators on the latest Owl City album, but it’s mostly the same whispery quasi-spiritual stuff that made “Fireflies” a massive hit. Despite help from pros like Blink-182’s Mark Hoppus filling out the sound, The Midsummer Station doesn’t pack the hooks found on Young’s last two albums. One exception: “Good Time” the lustrous single with Carly Rae Jepsen that can fuel a hundred summer days.
Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti
Reformed low-fi indie rocker Ariel Pink expands the musical palette he used on 2010’s Before Today for another wild trip through his genre-jumbled mind. He’s still a weirdo, exploring the sonic spaces between garage and psych rock, and combining ’60s organ with Bowie-like space oddities. Proof: Mature Themes‘ first single is a cover of an obscure R&B song from 1979 called “Baby” by the even more obscure Donnie & Joe Emerson.