There are moments I live for as a music fan. The seminal moment is the discovery of an amazing band or album. This comes when someone taps into the essence of a genre or takes a style and turns it on its head. So what happens when both happen?
Shangri-La, the titular reference to an unfound eastern paradise on Earth, is ten solid tracks about anything but. The duo of Jona Bechtolt and Claire L Evans has created ten tracks of burning cynicism wrapped in dirty beats. Their brand of electronic dance is extremely catchy and immediately relistenable.
How relistenable? 1) That I would make up a word and 2) We were given a streaming link to complete our review. Once finished, Greg immediately asked for a downloadable copy so we could continue to enjoy YACHT’s latest work.
A brief side of history: to record Shangri-La, the band locked themselves in a studio in West Texas to create a group recording with live instruments, electronic equipment and their thoughts. Out of this crucible came “Distopia (The Earth is on Fire),” a dark anthemic track that will have concert goers chanting along: “The Earth, the Earth, the Earth is on fire/we don’t have no daughter/let the motherfucker burn” and then cheering along to rich 8-bit keyboards.
Bechtolt and Evans trade off vocals, but Evan’s distinct vocals are a treat for the listener and are well mixed enough to have her wry lyrics cut into our brains so that we can know that “everyone loves someone but the universe loves no one” in “Holy Roller,” but also be treated to bouncy keyboards that would make Mr. Oizo proud. There are times that Evan’s voice misses the correct pitch, but tonally everything works, and I would much prefer to hear a missed note than AutoTune. Most songs are pop-song length, between two and four minutes save for the ambitious “Tripped and Fell in Love.” However, the song has enough giant hooks and heady beats that I lose myself in it and forget that I have been listening to the same track for over seven minutes.
Musically, Shangri-La blends contemporary electronic music with disco, funk, punk and pop and gives the listener a wide array of music to either dance to in a club or in their headphones. This 43 minute journey is full of sonic grandeur that makes me optimistic for the future of YACHT and electronic music as a whole.