Yeasayer - All Hour Cymbals - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

Yeasayer - All Hour Cymbals

by Alexandra Pett Rating:9 Release Date:

How do you write retrospectively about a band that has since hit such dizzy heights of popularity and credibility? I could say that the first time I first heard All Hour Cymbals I knew it would be massive but even if it were true (it is!) I don't think anyone would believe me. With this album New York's finest went from kooky outsiders to widely loved festival must-sees, spawning a whole host of folk-rock-electric pretenders from Brooklyn to Basingstoke. In short, it was something of a seminal album that has ultimately seemed a hard act to follow, even for the band. But that's another article.

So, to the music. Handclaps herald the arrival of 'Sunrise' with its attention seeking tribal drum and an arrangement that encompasses all the drama and awe of the title. Standing up on the back of a motorbike with your arms outstretched, speeding across a desert at sunrise might come close to truly feeling this song. The trademark Yeasayer harmonies appear in the breakdown, mixed in with a little slow jungle break. Like a wasabi and strawberry macaroon it shouldn't work but it bloody well does.

'Wait for the Summer' is a crackingly seasonal. The vocal talent in the harmonies is there in spades and those world rhythms are not only stripped of their hippie dustyness but made intensely danceable. At a recent Yeasayer gig I realised again how good this band are with words when I properly heard the lyrics to '2080' for the first time. "I can't sleep when I think about the times we're living in/ I can't sleep when I think about the future I was born in to." The gentle protest of the track combined with its distinctive chorus of "hey yeah!" is compelling listening - it's refreshing that Yeasayer have something to say but they don't set about lecturing or compromising the music for it.

'Germs' uneven, shuffling beats are topped with what sounds like an accordion and a layer of lovely vocal harmonies. As the track moves into the more exciting chorus the shakers and distinctive vocals give it a sound that's a bit Police circa Zenyatta Mondatta. Even the filler 'Ah, Weir' is better produced and shows more talent than most of what you'll find in the Itunes chart.

'No Need to Worry' is a disjointed track, held together by the thread of the piano that starts out folky and simple and then becomes electrified. It's also a dramatic track, peppered with trumpets, drum beats, shakers and finally the electric guitar that brings it down to its rocky knees a la Jimmy Hendrix, tying things off nicely.

'Forgiveness' is at first a confusing wall of noise, the kind that would destroy you if you had a hangover. But the track soon lightens up with an interesting drumbeat, upbeat vocals and the extra context of drum pad kicks. 'Wait for the Wintertime' has an atmospheric, slightly dramatic start that somehow manages to represent iced over ponds and frosty twigs without sounding twee. The track then descends into madness, a cacophony of horns and a 60s inspired trip of an ending. 'Worms' makes me think Cornershop could really have done more with their five minutes of fame but maybe that's just the sitar. The sinister synth nicely breaks up the vibe and gives it a good surreal ending.

'Waves' is all chilled drumbeats and knock you sideways warped sounds. The mantra-like repetition builds in warmth - "as long as the sun's in the heaven, the world stays underground" - before fading away into sampley sounds. 'Red Cave' arrives so far after 'Waves' I thought it was a hidden track. It's so very folksy with harmonies that get louder and better as the track goes on and a powerful building bass. Then the beat arrives and the track charges forwards getting louder to the peak of what is almost an ode of thanks to finish the album off. The only thing missing from this album is probably my favourite Yeasayer track - 'Tightrope'.

So there you have it, that seminal album that I told you was excellent the first time I heard it. You remember, right?

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