YACHT
Shangri-La


3.0
good

Review

by Keelan H. EMERITUS
July 5th, 2011 | 11 replies | 6,813 views


Release Date: 2011 | Tracklist


At about the point during “Paradise Engineering” when Claire Evans sings (speaks) that “the world’s last unpleasant experience will be a precisely datable event,” followed by a series of new-age platitudes and left-wing hand-wringing, I start to feel physically ill while thinking of those perfectly manufactured hipster faces. The lyrics get to be THAT bad on YACHT’s new album Shangri-La. I mean, the goddam song is called “Paradise Engineering” for Christ’s sake. Not that I particularly expected lyrical virtuosity from a dance-punk/synth-pop record, but from the Baby’s-first-drug-induced-philosophy-book to the lines that try to aim big and end up saying nothing at all (is the former not the same as the latter?), I’m never sure if I want to laugh or scream. But for all the lyrical ho-hummery and Noah-and-the-Whaleisms, Shangri-la proves to do what any good album on James Murphy’s DFA label does: be ridiculously fun to listen to at parties with all your indie-loving friends.

Neologisms aside, YACHT pack the disc’s forty some-odd minutes with the most hooks since, well, the last YACHT record. At times there are maybe too many hooks at the expense of flow and song-writing. The album drags slightly in its middle section as a result, but judging from the lyrics Shangri-la is hardly shooting for subtlety. Instead it relies on bright, extroverted melodies that attempt to pound themselves into your brain. Opening track “Utopia” begins affairs with a brilliant guitar jangle that signals the upbeat nature of the album (like, duh, they’re finding utopia and ***). At the opposing end, the eponymous closer is one of the strongest cuts with an infectious chorus that asks “if I can’t go to heaven let me go to LA.” In between these bookends are moments such as the throttling pulse of album highlight “Tripped and Fell in Love.” Shangri-la is a treasure chest of sugary synth-pop hooks and danceable beats. This is definitely an album you could totally drink a Pabst Blue Ribbon too and have some fun with your ironic friends.

Yet it comes back to those lyrics when talking about what holds Shangri-la back from being greater than it is. There are a few musical missteps to be sure, but for the most part the hooks are grand and the production lush. No, the problem with the album lies solely in the lyrical content – but it’s more than a simple matter of terrible lines like: “if you want me to be your father I will be your dad / and if you want me to be your mom yeah I will be your mom / and if you want to be your God then I will be your God.” The thematic approach leads to a greater sense of falsehood surrounding the album. The problem isn’t so much because the duo are making an album about man’s search for Utopia, but rather it is the lack of tongue-in-cheek in the whole affair that proves problematic. Their ideas are false; they come across as faux-hippies without a wink or a nudge but merely the appropriation of simply doing what hipsters ought to be doing. Whatever they ought to be doing is lost in mess of lame ideas buoyed by big hooks and pop flourishes. Remember that time when Sir Thomas Moore wrote a satire about Utopia? YACHT would be among those who thought he was actually being serious.



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user ratings (12)
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3.3
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Comments:Add a Comment 
thebhoy
Emeritus
July 5th 2011



4459 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Neologisms aside, remember when I still reviewed???


Also, now that I'm done summer school I can be a real live staffer again. This was hard to write because turns out the only writing I've done for some weeks is an essay on Italian neorealism and post-war Italian politics... so a lot different from this? If this sucks it's probably because of this. Excuses in shit itt

DaveyBoy
Staff Reviewer
July 5th 2011



20855 Comments


"post-war Italian politics"

Verging on porn, isn't it Keelan... With just a HINT of corruption thrown in.

SowingSeason
Staff Reviewer
July 5th 2011



15332 Comments


no intention of listening to this, but great review as always. pos'd in my heart

Digging: Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds - Abattoir Blues/The Lyre of Orpheus

thebhoy
Emeritus
July 5th 2011



4459 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

uhhhh... what Davey? I think by porn you mean... cold war? Thanks Sowinggggg

DaveyBoy
Staff Reviewer
July 5th 2011



20855 Comments


Hahaha. Depends on your definition of "post-war". The last 3 decades are still post-war... in a sense. And I'm gonna take a guess that corruption may have always been rife in Italian politics.

Seriously, what is the boundary on the definition of "post-war" anyway?

StreetlightRock
Emeritus
July 5th 2011



3761 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

I really liked the last record, but this is just bleugh. Those lyrics...

Digging: Towers - Bel Air Highrise Plantation

Electric City
Staff Reviewer
July 5th 2011



15727 Comments


that opening paragraph was brilliant. i just remembered i missed you

Digging: Joyce Manor - Never Hungover Again

Irving
Staff Reviewer
July 5th 2011



7140 Comments


if you want me to be your father I will be you dad

I think you mean "your"? But aside from that, this review makes me wonder how you do it. You bugger off for a few months and still come back with a high level of writing. One thing about your style that interests me is this: you can pull of using personal pronouns in your reviews. When anyone else does it they just end up sounding blogposty and conversational. I'm quite intrigued.

Pos-ed in my heart a la Sowinnnngggg.

AggravatedYeti
July 6th 2011



7684 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

agreed the lyrics hold this back but to be honest I don't find them as detrimental as you seem to.

excellent write up regardless Keelers, I've missed your presence around here.

thebhoy
Emeritus
July 6th 2011



4459 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

aww shucks you guys. And Davey post-war Italy is generally referring to 1945-1948 or in my case 1952. I was more wondering what the whole "porn" comment was about. But yeah corruption out the wazoo.


Oh and thanks Irving, fix'd

Snowball
July 8th 2011



85 Comments


saw this band live last year, they were lolbad and the girl had an extreme case of camel toe.



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