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.