If you haven’t heard of a little Portland by way of Los Angeles by way of Marfa, Texas band called YACHT, you have been missing out on a lot in music. Firstly, they are pop/rock band with traces of electronic influence that sing fun, fun, fun songs. Secondly, they are extremely high concept, singing songs from the point of view of gods, chanting about heaven and hell, and have–somewhat ironically, somewhat seriously–created their own religion and vernacular online. I feel that the geniuses behind this–Jona Bechtolt and Claire L. Evans–are artistic masters who will eventually dupe us with a bigger plan for Young Americans Challenging High Technology (what YACHT stands for).
This Tuesday, June 21, the band will release their second album on DFA. Coming from the one-man-Jona-Bechtolt-show of I Believe In You. Your Magic Is Real. to the summer album of 2009 See Mystery Lights, the band has come quite far. Jona brought in Claire with the first go on DFA and really changed the sound, image, and ideals behind the group. See Mystery Lights was a fun, fantastic album with many songs in he-sang/she-sang style about psychosis and death and obsession with things grim–all wrapped in a clever, danceable, bright yellow bow.
With their new album Shangri-La, the band takes the next step: they become gods. Instead of focusing on the afterlife still, the band now speaks of utopias and dystopias and being male and female, dwelling in a realm they’ve created that is all encompassing: a paradise to the gods that they are (or, at least singing from)–their Shangri-La. The album capitalizes on Claire’s singing with Jona handling much of the production. From the pensive “Paradise Engineering” to the baptismal Love In The Dark to the beautiful closer Shangri-La, the songs blip and bloop with a dark happiness that is the band–all headed by Almost-Annie-Lenox Claire this go around. Jona jumps in at a few points, singing on the entrancing/Welcome-To-Our-Coven Tripped and Fell In Love and I Walked Alone. However, the majority of the album he sings in unison or to compliment Claire.
The resulting album is absolutely fantastic and bound to be the summer album of 2011 (but not of they year: they think Planningtorock has taken that title. I can concur, somewhat.). Although it is available next week, NPR has kindly teamed up with the band to provide an early listen. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did and I hope to see you in Shangri-La (which may or may not be Los Angeles).