Review Summary: Whisper Mark Sandman your number and he'll call you up at home. If he remembers your number that is.
Band's with gimmicks generally don't stick around too long. For example, if you happen to be professional wrestler, Chris Jericho, you may feel inclined to release one album with your own band. But it will be just that. The album will be forever remembered as 'that one that Jericho did'. And in many ways you can be happy with this, but that in itself is the warning to any serious music artist; have a gimmick and be doomed in your career to be followed by it, long after you've been and gone.
The same could not be said of Morphine, a band with an undeniable gimmick. Having but three members, and no lead guitar, the band became immediate indie favourites for stumbling upon their own accidental gimmick, namely that lead singer and songwriter Mark Sandman played a detuned tune bass guitar with only three strings. An idea that in itself beggars belief and physical capabilities, but it simply worked, and this original and interesting feature was soon transcended by Morphine's excellent discography and the simply amazing songwriting of lead man, Sandman.
Yes is the bands third, and last truly superb album, and like their first full length, Good, and it's followup Cure For Pain, the sound is heavily focused on sliding bass, seedy saxophones and cool beat-poetry influenced lyrics and vocal delivery. It is an excellent sound, and one that today sounds no less original for their other accident, the reintroduction of saxophone into an unnatural indie habitat.
Throughout Yes, the band's focus switches from the melancholy tale of having a clean slate forced on you in Scratch, to the seedy sexual advances and leer of a drunk Sandman on the incredible Whisper, the joy of sexual conquests on the title track Yes, and the submission to a lover's demands on the unforgettable All Your Way. Though the bands focus may change, it's delivery is never anything short of astoundingly effective, throughout Morphine manage to hit the nail on the head with frightening accuracy and regularity, including the odd fun memorable riff, perceived meaningful lyrics ('I found a woman who's soft but she's also hard'), and the 'coffee house cool' and smooth atmosphere the band deliberately tried, and successfully managed to cultivate.
Indeed, the album may not be as well renown as it's (now alternative classic) predecessor, but it's impact is just as stark, and it's delivery just as, if not more direct. That's not to say it's without it's flaws, though. Sharks, though fun and clearly not a serious attempt at a track, sounds less like a fun 60's jazz throwback and more like something off Nickelodeon, while Gone For Good does what In Spite of Me did on the previous album, only hugely less effective and memorable.On Free Love, the band expounds it's own sonic experiments into bizarre doom territory. Ever wondered what Black Sabbath would sound like with saxophone? This is the track to find out, and while it may be fun for a few listens, the drone and doom does not lend itself well to alternative music, with the saxophone boring a hole into any listeners head after a few decent listens.
That said, Yes is all the better fifteen years on for the dust that has piled on top of it, sounding as important now as ever, like the relic R.E.M.'s debut has become, this too now stands up with the previous album, and does as great a job of confirming Morphine's retrospective influence on the alternative rock genre.