LIVE: YEASAYER/JAVELIN – 21/02/2010
Javelin’s bizarre intro – which I can only describe as ‘cosmic’ – segues straight into the main body of their set, which is stuck somewhere between very chilled and very dancy – with fat beats, floaty synths and falsetto vocals. The slightly everyday-sounding, yet ambitious lyrics mark this apart from a lot of the other twee, retro stuff out there.
It’s delightfully low-fi on the one hand, yet the drum machine (presumably an 808) sounds thick and solid, and really pumps. One of the best things about the music is that it is being performed live. There are very few samples, although little snippets of other songs are recreated live instead, including Mariah Carey’s ‘Fantasy’. Visually it works well, with the drummer standing up, playing a drum machine with real drumsticks and getting very lively.
Their instrumental ‘Soda Popinski’ charms my pants off – I love 1980′s 8-bit Nintendo synth sounds, and Javelin effortlessly combine them with what sounds like James Brown’s rhythm section. As Yeasayer say, “Javelin are a party in a box”.
Yeasayer’s first few notes are aimed at the internal organs, and the opening song makes me think of a party held by the Decepticons. The second song sounds nothing like the aforementioned mish-mash of unnatural noises – chilled, with a lot of Indian melodies and African flavour, all dressed up in a very 80′s sound.
The live element is in full force here – keyboards, guitars, bass and drums are all played on stage, but the sound is distinctly different to traditional bands, with stripped down, slow chord progressions and rhythmical simplicity all overlaid with vocals which go from almost spoken word to effects-laden droning. The harmonies really impress; one moment like the Gypsy Kings, the next, like The Mars Volta.
The middle of the set is where Yeasayer really distinguish themselves from most bands, throwing together original dance music in a variety of styles. All in all, it’s pretty special stuff, and my initial theory that this would have gone down well in the 80′s is wrong – it would have been lost in the noise, too eclectic to appeal to the money-men of the day. With the music consumer nowadays more often pandered to by DJ’s and the associated stylistic diversity, modern mainstream tastes are much more geared to an hour-long set without a discernible theme. This one deservedly goes down a treat.