Over five years and three albums, Brooklyn five-piece Yeasayer have refined their melting pot of self-styled “middle eastern psych snap gospel” into something less wilfully pretentious and more pop-orientated.
Star rating: * * *
They are still an art rock band, assimilating diverse influences in the grand New York tradition of groups such as Talking Heads, but the content of their current set was sometimes so streamlined it lacked any character.
Yeasayer have two fine soulful vocalists in Chris Keating and Anand Wilder but, even in harmony, there was only so much they could do to drum up interest in a succession of undercooked mid-paced electronica numbers. All the sampled strings, subtle Caribbean and Afro-funk inflections and clubby lightshow at their disposal could not compensate for the underwhelming direction they have taken with their latest album, Fragrant World. Reaching back into their catalogue for greater light and shade, the yodelly hookline of Madder Red and the tribal indie holler of Wait For The Summer packed more personality and melodic interest than much of their newer material.
However, current single Reagan’s Skeleton was their most immediate number, boasting a funky rhythm, spacey disco backing and, above all, a memorable pop tune. By Keating’s reckoning, Ambling Alp is even catchier – it was certainly at the more vibrant end of their spectrum, bringing the main set to a perky conclusion, before an encore which suggested they had nothing better in their armoury.