Jona Bechtolt is all over the place. He’s produced beats as The Blow with singer Khaela Maricich, drummed for Devendra Banhart, and opened for LCD Soundsystem on tour under the name YACHT. Now, Bechtolt is preparing for a UK re-release of his third YACHT record, I Believe In You. Your Magic Is Real, an electronic dance-rock effort fueled by inspired loops and a lighthearted charm.
Dance music is all about making repetition intense and interesting. Taking a lead from musical hybrids LCD Soundsystem and M.I.A., YACHT intersperses sections of pop and rock into instrumental loops of dance music, resulting in a rather enjoyable mix of elements designed to hold the listener’s attention throughout 45 minutes of dense mixes.
I Believe In You opens with a throwaway track, So Post All ‘Em, which in essence is a warm-up exercise of sharp acoustic guitars combined with layers of percussive elements that all lead into the album’s first real hit, See A Penny (Pick It Up). Borrowing a breezy falsetto style along the lines of Beck, Bechtolt balances out a pop chorus with hard drum hits, fuzzed out electronics, and all sorts of buzzes and bleeps along the way. Everything builds into a roaring, percussive cacophony that, in one of the many surprises thrown in to keep things interesting, suddenly drops out completely before the song grinds to a halt.
The following track, We’re Always Waiting, introduces a key element to I Believe In You – the chant. YACHT produces a hook out of chanting “We want all that stuff, all that stuff that costs too much”, coming off like a more insistent, less childish version of The Go! Team. Throughout the album, Bechtolt uses such chants to inject a sense of urgency in an otherwise lighthearted affair, as when he later chants “Everything is fucked, so what we gonna do?” on Don’t Stay In Bed. But rather than being self-defeatist, Bechtolt seems to champion the cause of the unmotivated: We’re disenchanted and indifferent, yes, but we’re still here.
And, as is the case with many experiments that incorporate a diverse amount of influences, some ideas do fall flat. Drawing In The Dark, a song that opens with a group of reverberating voices and morphs into a drudge of processed vocals and sporadic drumbeats, sounds like the outcome of an overnight collaboration with Animal Collective in a small room holding nothing but a single microphone, a laptop, a bottle of scotch and a few spliffs. Other tracks like If Music Could Cure All That Ails You and final offering Women Of The World lack cohesive ideas and run the monotony of a simple beat into the ground. But even as experiments run afoul, YACHT’s pitfalls still lend an endearing quality to the music: Bechtolt’s making mistakes because he’s ambitious, and that’s okay.
It is apparent that LCD Soundsystem has rubbed off on YACHT, but Bechtolt manages to make the music on I Believe In You, Your Magic Is Real his own by using twists and turns in response to James Murphy’s more linear, dance-oriented rock. All in all, YACHT delivers a refreshing levity that demands a number of repeat listens.