We are nearing the end of the year, and for that I want to review some of the best albums of 2016. Yeasayer’s Amen & Goodbye was a mystical, musical adventure that hit 2016 way before Doctor Strange. This Brooklyn band pride themselves on creating sounds that are unusual looks into the spiritual side of life, with Amen & Goodbye feeling like a magical opus to the soul.
When you think of a psychotropic experience, particularly in music, you think of synchronized harmonies that captivate your mind, otherworldly brass arrangements pluck at your thoughts, and hypnotic guitar strums that rub your vision with tranquility, which Amen & Goodbye does. Yeasayer goes straight for the mind-altering effects of music that can place people in either their internal dreams or nightmares. This explains the spontaneity of the record. One minute, you are soaring through a vast space of twilighted colors and landscapes like, you are rediscovering the world and in the next second the bassline becomes heavy and wistful chants are summoned to give the feeling of being enveloped by a dark wormhole, and this can happen in one song. Thus, the entire record is emblematic of the light and dark forces that battle in the sul and appear in the mind as abstract images of clashing feelings a human being can carry, at once. We can be happy one minute and sad the next, and we can confusingly feel both emotions at the same time. Not too many bands have attempted to encompass the odd spirituality of music/humans, but, if I had to compare Yeasayer to a band that has, I would say The Beatles.
Tracks like “Daughters of Cain”, “Half Asleep”, “Gerson’s Whistle”, and “Divine Simulacrum” sound like they were written and composed by The Beatles. I know that is a high honor, but it is also a valid, deserved one. Yeasayer’s Amen & Goodbye sounds like the follow-up record to The Beatles Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, in part, because Chris Keating is the vocal love child of Paul McCartney and John Lennon. He has mastered the “yearning” of their voice in that when you hear Beatles songs, both vocally and lyrically, it seems as if they are calling for something better and something more. They have an integrated longing in their voice that makes their vocals automatically emotional. The same thing can be said for Keating’s vocals which create strikingly sentient harmoniums like, in “Uma” and “Dead Sea”. His vocal “yearn” will remind listeners that spiritual journeys are, in every way, an emotional experience. You have to learn to feel better to do better, and thus be better. Therefore, Keating’s voice drives the thematic melodies of swimming through your mind and soul to figure out, “What is your peace?”. Note: I said YOUR peace.
Life is a different experience for everyone, but the common ground between people is that it is an experience. Moreover, it is an experience we all desire to be based in love and peace, but what Yeasayer’s Amen & Goodye analyzes if how love and peace is a personal definition/ discovery. Such a realization is majestic, and makes Amen & Goodbye both Yeasayer’s best album and the one where they come closest to capturing life’s essence experience. The album is wondrously vast in sound, and as I try to exemplify, in my words and ideas, its mysticism, I feel like I fail because, like life, this record is an experience to be had, which is why it is so spiritual. When you analogize/ digitize sonics to sound like rays of abstraction you create a soundscape that is soulful essence but simple in delivery. Thus, the greatness of Yeasayer’s Amen & Goodbye is that its spiritual initiative was achieved. They captivated/ embodied the paradox of being human; we are both simple and complex in our offerings. For More Information On Yeasayer and to Buy Amen & Goodbye Click Here.