At first, Anand Wilder—who sings and plays just about everything in Brooklyn's Yeasayer—might seem like your average guy who forms a rock band for predictable reasons. After all, he justifies his musical pursuits by explaining, (1) "It's the only thing I'm good at," (2) "It's damn fun," and (3) "It's better than an office job." But the genesis of this arty New York it-band reveals Wilder's ambitions to be considerably larger and weirder than that.
Namely, when Yeasayer formed, Wilder was hard at work on Break Line, a rock opera about a Western Pennsylvania mining town, encompassing gospel, country, folk, honky-tonk, and heavy metal. Seriously.
"It's sort of like a Romeo and Juliet story in the mines," he explains. "It's post-Civil War and there's a lot of racial tension exacerbated by tough times."
While Yeasayer's bizarre but enchanting debut, All Hour Cymbals, hardly aims for that kind of narrative focus, it shows the band similarly gorging itself on a host of styles and sounds. The sitar, handclaps, and ecstatic chanting of "Wait for the Summer" conjure acid-damaged '60s folk, while its counterpart, the rabid "Wait for the Wintertime," flails violently over eerie organ, droning horns, and frantic guitar chords. And "2080" is a straight-shooting rock song—until it goes overboard with an abrupt pirate shanty section. It's as if, in the face of so much inspiring pop music, the band simply couldn't say no to any of it.
"There was a conscious effort to acknowledge as many influences as possible," Wilder claims, before launching into an exhaustive list of band-approved favorites that reels from Eno to Enya. Still, Yeasayer's mix of soaring multi-part harmonies, disjointed structures, and eclectic instrumentation outweighs the sum of its diffuse influences. They're dense and disorienting compositions, which Wilder predicts will lead to something lighter—if no less ambitious—on the next full-length.
"All Hour Cymbals is a very heavy album with lots of long songs and melodramatic themes," he says. "For the next album, we're thinking about writing a lot more love songs, maybe 20 or so pure pop songs, all under three minutes."