A Philosophical Jaunt Into Forever
or, "Hey guys, a new Yacht album!" - by Nick Brunner
Shangri-La opens with "Utopia" as speedy guitar and bass lines combine with singer Claire L. Evans' overt enthusiasm. The song immediately sets up the album's theme and sounds as if YACHT is recruiting for a global Habitat For Humanity. "A higher source is callin' and you don't have to commit, you don't have to submit. The future works upon us as we all work upon it. Utopia, Utopia, Utopia, UTOPIA!" Unfortunately Utopia is not long for the world as it gives way to "Dystopia (The Earth Is On Fire)."
Shangri-La offers themes of divinity, eternity, escape, prophesy, science, skepticism and friendship; all of them couched in a society on the brink of destruction/salvation. The end of the world has never been dancier and throughout the album Evans swaps roles between Tour Guide to the Apocalypse ("Dystopia (The Earth Is On Fire)"), Shiva the Destroyer ("Holy Roller") and your level headed best friend ("Shangri-La"). The track featured in this week's show, "I Walked Alone," is a notable exception as it's the only song featuring Jona Bechtolt as the lead vocalist. With a steady disco beat and mellow keys on "I Walked Alone" and the real-talk pontification on "Paradise Engineering" offer balm for anyone still raw about the dissolution of LCD Soundsystem.
The title track is less serious perhaps but certainly no less thought-provoking. It humanizes the record with simple instrumentation, gentle, inviting nature and vocals free of digital filters.
I don't wanna die and go on off to paradise / There are more fun places here that I can patronize. / And you, my friend / aren't born again / You're dead / already.
And if I can't go to heaven, let me go to L.A. / or the far West-Texas desert or an Oregon summer day / If we build a utopia will you come and stay? / Shangri-La, la la, lala, la la, lala
It's easily my favorite song on the record.
Shangri-La seems to differ most from its predecessor (See Mystery
Lights, DFA Records, 2009) is in its subject matter. I feel See
Mystery Lights was the flirty, get-to-know-ya record where
Shangri-La is the heavy, late night discussion between good
friends. It's more refined, the songs are more cohesive and it has
a serious point of view. If humanity's potential for creation and
destruction peaks your interest, YACHT delivers a 40+ minute
treatise on these challenging ideas as easily digestible dance pop.
Shangri-La offeres a glimpse of the earthly paradise where it
derives it's name. Even if in small ways, YACHT suggests we're
capable of making it a reality and perhaps culpable if we
Congratulations to Louise who came
by the Cap Radio Record Sale this weekend and was the first person
to ask about the Third Man singles package I was giving away that
Big thanks to everyone who took out of your shopping to stop by our
make-shift DJ booth and say hello. We're already looking
forward to next year.