Single Review: Second Summer - YACHT

I've dipped in and out of YACHT's releases over the years and their mileage varies. Their fourth album (and first on current home DFA), See Mystery Lights, had a fresh sound, applying a pop spin to the post-punk revival of the time.

Despite that promising album I was left very cold after YACHT's performance supporting LCD Soundsystem at Brixton in advance of the release of This Is Happening. YACHT basically seemed to try too hard, their live performance feeling like an overly dramatised event. There's a thin line within performance between boring and fake and it seemed like YACHT went and tripped over it.

YACHT's new single, 'Second Summer', appears to be a dual reference to the summer of love and, presumably, YACHT's breakthrough track 'Summer Song'. The track comes then from the sense of honesty and freedom of that sacred summer: "Like the original Summer of Love and its acid house revival, the Second Summer of Love, our aim is true: to create environments of total freedom" say the band. Given that 'Summer Song' represents the band's own metaphorical summer of love as a concept it feels hyper-referential.

It's difficult not to find notions of the second summer of love a little tired - popular culture seems to be obsessed with declaring it's return. Maybe that's the real point here and if it is, the songs concept is probably it's cleverest element. I'm not sure I credit YACHT with the sophistication though.

Three versions of the track feature across the formats. The original is a slick and punchy record. YACHT have a track record of producing quirky synth pop and that's exactly what they do here with bouncy bass lines, strings and Claire L Evans' aloof vocals that blossom into a colourful chorus.

The dub lets the track's bed come to the fore, playing up the electro-disco nature of the track and extending the duration. Free from the constraints of being a sub- five-minute pop record it is able to work a bit more magic, with Jona Bechtolt's instrumentation allowed to shine. The synths and strings create a looping track that locks itself into a nice building groove.

The final version comes from Ben Aqua, who creates a glitchy track full of stuttering sample-effects. Evans is pitched, vocoder-ed and auto-tuned to within an inch of her life. The deep, rolling bass and drum work together to create a modern, urban feel but it lacks to subtlety of the dub.

'Second Summer' is YACHT being YACHT, no more, no less. The response to their last album Shangri-La  was somewhat lukewarm and 'Second Summer' isn't the sound of a band trying something new, despite a tendency for reinvention in the past. The dub suggests Bechtolt could create something more interesting if he gave himself more space, it's a shame we will have to continue to wait in order to hear it.

Second Summer is released on 18 December through DFA, available from Amazon.co.uk on MP3, with the Ben Aqua mix as a separate release [affiliate links].

Album Review: See Mystery Lights - YACHT

In what has at times felt like a somewhat turgid year musically YACHT's debut album for their current form, as a duo rather than just an alterego for Jona Bechtolt, feels like a palate cleanser.

YACHT's initial release for DFA, 'Summersong' (a track actually inspired by the DFA label), set bloggers tongues a-wagging when it was released (last year) but See Mystery Lights picks up the ball and runs, runs, runs with it.

So what you get is an album that, admittedly, sounds post-punk enough to almost actually be from 1982. BlackPlastic isn't about to get holier than thou and tell you to drop this in favour of the new retrospective release from San Francisco post-punkers The Unit though (but you should definitely check that out too). And that is because See Mystery Lights sounds so damn fresh it is irresistible.

More than a simple revisitation of the past, YACHT draw inspiration from some great bands and twist their ideas to create something new. So the throbbing calypso chant of 'Ring The Bell' positively beams with knowing pop-sassiness whilst 'The Afterlife' chimes in with what sounds like the hook from Desmond Dekker's 'Israelites' over a bleepy bouncing synth backing.

Ultimately YACHT just hit on that key post-punk component: pop. Pure infectious pop. It's easy to forget the role pop had in post-punk but listen to Bow Wow Wow and Devo (not to mention the output of most of the bands that made up the New Romantic movement) and it is a wonder why YACHT's album feels like the first candy-pop post-punk record for our generation.

BP x

Available now on Amazon.co.uk on CD and MP3 [affiliate links].