"Ah, the Barfly," sighs Yeasayer guitarist Anand Wilder nostalgically. "The Dublin Castle …" With the band wildly beating drum-pads like a gaggle of electro-Krishnas and backlit by a theatre-sized lighting rig crammed on to the Lexington's minuscule stage, it's bizarre to find them reminiscing fondly about their 2007 tour of Camden toilet venues. But then this tiny fan show is a throwback to a time when Yeasayer emerged as the most blogged-about band on the planet and a pivotal force in New York's underground scene. They combined the Rapture's dancefloor funk with MGMT's psychedelia and the manic world music of Animal Collective. Later – with 2009's breakthrough hit Ambling Alp – they also popularised the accessible 80s pop edge that's now become de rigueur in the basements of Williamsburg.
Those bright shards of Duran Duran, Red Box, the Thompson Twins and Wax, often sunk beneath oceans of Indian and Shinto synth trickery on their albums, leap to the fore when played live. While the synthetic mania and tribal drum frenzies of 2080 suggest shamans possessed by wolf spirits, the tune is essentially You Can Call Me Al crossed with Talking Heads; as swamped as Henrietta might be with what sounds like lovelorn yetis howling, at its core it's a Hall and Oates cameo in Miami Vice. The tracks from the forthcoming third album Fragrant World, which dominate the set, might sound like music melting, but they leave a luminescent puddle, oozing the warmth and humanity of the finest electro.
The new material proves their choruses remain cut-throat, their beats bristling and their brains bubbling: there's a Rubber Soul slant to Folk Hero Shtick and a fresh political bite to the New Order-aping Reagan's Skeleton. Crowd-pleasers may be sparse tonight, but as singer Chris Keating leaps into an audience drenched in glitterball rays for a jubilant Ambling Alp, the Yeas undoubtedly have it.
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