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Album Review
See Mystery Lights

See Mystery Lights
by Yacht


Review Date
8th November 2009
Reviewed by
Courtney Sanders

There was a time a few years back, when Yacht came to New Zealand having released a fantastic album and twenty people attended his show at the SFBH even though he was supported by another electronic ingénue Panther. Embarrassing and awkward for the attendees (even though both Yacht and Panther made the most of the circumstances by dancing ferociously amongst the crowd rather than the usual stage-crowd set-up) and I guess, embarrassing for New Zealand’s live scene more generally; who would come to our far –out shores if only twenty something people are going to attend the gig (which is proceeded by a bangin’ MTV circuit in Australia). It seems that perhaps a touring musician’s profile must be relatively large before their name filters down to a more general Kiwi audience, no?

Regardless of the reason venues were unceremoniously attended last time, it is obvious that Yacht will have no problems packing them out when they return next year, for a couple of reasons. That beacon of James Murphy electronica has taken the duo Jona Bechtolt and Claire L. Evaunder under his DFA wing to release new album See Mystery Lights, which subsequently gives way to reason number two: Yacht’s new album is all the summer time, cowbelling fun you’d expect a DFA release to emcompass.

Slick black and white cover art gives way to ten tracks of similarly slick and epic appeal, while retaining the ironic wit and DIY (although less intrinsic this time round) tactics previously employed on tracks like ‘See a Penny (pick it up)’. However, the aesthetic DFA bases releases on has meant Yacht have upped their game into a world of cowbells, spoken lyrics, “baby’s” and “ah-e-ah’s” to create a sun filtering LP potentially as reflective of their recording locale – Marfa, Texas (compared to their notoriously rainy hometown of Portland, Oregan) as their label change.

Lead single ‘Psychic City’ is this beautifully relaxed jaunt about friends and cakes and barbeques, that at the same time calls to mind the most intense breaks of The Rapture while retaining a beat steeped in alternative hip hop along the lines of Honey Claws or Bumblebeez. Interesting inclusions like a continual dripping water sample scream old school Yacht merge perfectly with LCD elements like male-female chorus that slides into ‘ah-e-ah-e-ah’ and then back into the everyday subject matter. Quirky, simple, dance-able, it’s the most intriguing elements of Yacht’s previous releases wrapped up in a glossy production package. Intelligent electronica for the masses, and while this album may not have the hooks that something like ‘All My Friends’ or ‘North American Scum’ does, that’s not the point – it’s DFA at its most relaxed and intriguing best, and equally as appealing because of this. Summer soundtrack here we come, and to quote; ‘A friend might say “come on over, we’re having a party for you.” Yes please!

Elsewhere on See Mystery Lights it’s the same, with varying degress of intensity. You know, party tunes with passion, holds barred on irony and self-awareness, and that’s potentially the nicest departure from previous Yacht exploits – they’ve completely succumbed to the um, rhythm and written appropriately poppy, catchy tunes with all their elegant lyricism intact, about summer parties that you would actually want to play at a summer party.

As Evan repeats “I told you your dreams would come true through the outro of ‘Psychic City’, you begin to think that for a band that have compromised nothing artistically for so long, maybe their dreams just have.

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