While All Hour Cymbals and Odd Blood sounded of-the-moment and eclectic, Yeasayer's latest is both the band's most-cohesive record and their most-anachronistic record.
Synthier than ever, and much less strange, Fragrant World sounds like something recorded in 1982. It could easily be listened to between INXS' Shabooh Shoobah and Forever Now by the Psychedelic Furs, and not sound at all out of place. This record, though, is more soft-rock than either of those classics, which I suppose makes it musique du jour in an era when Bon Iver wins Grammy Awards for Best New Artist and Best Alternative Music Album, and everyone argues about whether Destroyer's Kaputt is garbage or genius.
Luckily, Fragrant World is better than either of those records, more flavored with new wave energy and much more singalong-able. "Demon Road" might be the album's best offering, with an addictive hook and a chorus that comes as close to "soaring" as the band gets these days. "No Bones" is another standout, a suitably weird psych-dance number whose refrains of, "Suppose it's the right time," echo and refract in one's mind long after the song has ended.
Fans might find Fragrant World tepid, and it may come off that way on the first listen. But it's less self-consciously weird than the first two albums, a bit more mature and relaxed. That may also mean less fun and ambitious (with a couple of proggy snoozers in evidence—I'm looking at you, "Glass of the Microscope").