YACHT See Mystery Lights Review

Released 2009.  

BBC Review

Engaging, inspiring and, most of all, an awful lot of fun.

Rob Webb 2009

Portland-native Jona Bechtolt's first album for the DFA imprint (partly owned by LCD Soundsystem's James Murphy) is an energetic electronic selection, all processed beats and bedroom-pop trickery. But that's not to say it lacks warmth or substance.

See Mystery Lights was recorded shortly after Bechtolt's last YACHT record, 2007's well-received I Believe in You, Your Magic is Real, and again features the vocals of long-time collaborator (and now full-time band member) Claire Evans. Those familiar with Bechtolt's past endeavours - that album, his appearance on The Blow's 2006 LP Paper Television and miscellaneous audio/visual projects - will feel immediately at home.

It's certainly music with a clear mission (a liberal, left-leaning one espousing Bechtolt's personal philosophies - check the band's website for a full manifesto), but the frantic electronic rhythms that underpin it all ensures that it's foot-tapping, rather than chin-stroking, that a cursory spin elicits.

Summer Song, from 2008's EP of the same name, is a cut-and-paste disco blast, mostly instrumental save for the mantra: "We stayed up talking all night long/So move your feet to the Summer Song". On I'm in Love With a Ripper (which appears here in both normal and Party Mix forms), Evans's vocal is heavily manipulated against a backdrop of synthesised handclaps and beats.

The most immediate example of the band's playful, eclectic nature here, though, is The Afterlife, a more relaxed number that borrows liberally from the melody of reggae legend Desmond Dekker's oft-imitated Israelites. Remember the famous Vitalite advert in the 90s? It's that tune. As YACHT's version appears to be coming to an end, Evans informs us, helpfully: "That is not the end of this song".

Given its backing by DFA (a label distributed by EMI), See Mystery Lights will, for many, provide an introduction to the world of YACHT. On that basis, it's a great starting point: accessible and enjoyable but lacking none of the individuality and ingenuity of Bechtolt's previous work, it's a record that's engaging, inspiring and, most of all, an awful lot of fun.

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