If there is one abstract quality that indie rock of all generations covets, craves and claims, it is this: a new innocence, a new naïveté. You hear it in the anti-machismo of early REM as a response to arena rock’s phallic histrionics; in the defiant slack and pitch-careless singing of Pavement and Sebadoh while glam metal ruled MTV; and, most plainly, in the new, ecstatic communal model of the early aughts, in which indie bands decided they were sick to death of dark irony, dope ballads and the cultural and gender hierarchies embedded in standard rock arrangement.
One might ask why tabula rasa and new beginnings are so important to this typically well-educated, white and male population. It might have something to do with guilt, expiation and abdication: an endemic self-effacement and necessary estrangement from tradition in the awakened conscience of an advantaged class. I dunno. I need to stop thinking about it now.
For the Baltimore-bred, Brooklyn relocated Yeasayer, this celebration of a new innocence and idealism is encoded right there in the Molly Bloom of the band’s name. And the ideals are put right into action on the opening track of their debut, “Sunrise” from 2007’s All Hour Cymbals. Yeasayer’s point from the downbeat on is a big, global, ecstatic and madly busy gesture of rebirth: busy like a meadow in spring, sounds darting and copulating left and right, cross-breeding carbon and silicon. They are natural kinsfolk of Animal Collective. At first they were more organic and more overtly “world” than Panda Bear and the boys; but like everything in Brooklyn these days, Yeasayer has been trending electro for a couple of releases now.
On 2016’s colorful and choral Amen & Goodbye, the songs either jones for liberation or claim it as fact, or both. The closer you get to these lyrics, however, the sooner you realize that there is nothing messianic or “follow us to a new world” about Yeasayer. In fact, there is a lot of grief, guilt and self-distrust in there. It is just that this, the rite of ecstatic music – both aboriginal and futuristic – provides a temporary and collective escape from self and selves.
The huge backroom at BSP has been getting a workout lately and is likely bracing for one of its biggest tests to date as Yeasayer visit on Wednesday, May 11 at 7 p.m., with Young Magic opening. Tickets cost $20 in advance and $25 on the day of the show. Get them at https://bspkingston.com or locally at Outdated and Rocket Number Nine in Kingston, Jack’s Rhythms in new Paltz, Darkside Records in Poughkeepsie and at the Woodstock Music Shop and its new Hudson Valley Mall location. BSP is located at 323 Wall Street in Kingston.
Yeasayer/Young Magic, Wednesday, May 11, 7 p.m., $20/$25, BSP, 323 Wall Street, Kingston, https://bspkingston.com.