YACHT was originally named in reference to Young Americans Challenging High Technology.
This couldn’t be a more fitting name.
This Portland, Oregon based work of true genius is as infectious as humanly possible. The brainchild of Jona Bechtolt, whose punk origins are nowhere to be found within miles of this album, brings together an array of sounds, which could easily lead to hours of notable musical comparisons. These ten tracks, as familiar as they may feel, are a remarkable feat that brings about an impressively unique experience.
I’d previously heard only good things about YACHT, but never had the pleasure. Opening their 5th studio album with a ukulele influenced synthpop infused “Utopia,” they immediately touch on a cynical realization of life. We’re given very thoughtful lyrics laid over a sped up Caffeinated Disco track, leaving you with a 3:06 soundtrack to the chaos that can be everyday life. Appearing to master the technique of a vintage 1980’s Casio keyboard, “Dystopia (The Earth is on Fire)” digs up the long forgotten feeling of “Fire, Water, Burn” and “Popcorn Song.” I find myself randomly singing “The Earth, The Earth, The Earth is on fire…”
Carrying a consistent modern adaption on the 70’s electro-funk throughout, Shangri-La successfully stands apart from the sounds common to their base of operations in the Pacific Northwest. Where the electro-funk genre historically took a lyrically soulful approach, Bechtolt’s project goes the way of David Byrne. Often accompanied by the piercing vocals of Claire Evans, it is very easy to ignore what is being sung and simply feel the music.
Just as we started off with a sporadic and hectic feeling, Shangri-La brilliantly steps it down a notch to almost a vocally solitude “Holy Roller” where the vocals are matched for a majority of the track with the simplicity of a jazzy snap and a little bass riff. Only to come back to the funky grooves to end out the album with “Tripped and Fell in Love” and the title track. The title track of “Shangri-La” is the epitome of save the best for last. This perfectly produced, most assuredly a major hit, track leaves you screaming “ENCORE! ENCORE!”
Truly pushing the technology of generations before them, Shangri-La is a beautiful piece of self realization and YACHT is a sure fire way to get yourself hooked into beats that will have you moving your feet almost uncontrollably.