Album Reviews

Yppah – Eighty One

(Ninja Tune) UK release date: 2 April 2012

Yppah’s third album proper isn’t the kind we hear too much of at the moment. Mixing shoegazy guitars, electronic layers and sound effects with a pillar of hip hop-influenced rhythms, Eighty One is a creation that is both epic and injected with the signature warmth that artists from the southern, coastal slice of the USA so adeptly seem to master.

Building on his previous two LPs – You Are Beautiful At All Times and They Know What Ghost Know – Joe Corrales has taken three years to create this offering. But the album thoroughly consolidates his loose style of weaving different genres together by sticking to a background of trip hop, only with bright, almost grandiose production values, which suit the air of his music so much that the result is breathtaking.

His music bursts with a joy reminiscent of Passion Pit and Working For A Nuclear Free City, and nestles in the shoegaze of M83. But its undertones often brood in darker DJ Shadow-esque moods – none of these influences being the master of the other, nor of his own artistic style.

Blue Schwinn’s meandering shoreline guitar marries with an expansive, ’90s rave-cum-hip hop melded beat, with electronics that twinkle against a tripped-out female vocal. This gives an immediate feeling of space to Eighty One, rendering it a collection of tracks to easily become completely enveloped by. Never Mess With Sunday sees Corrales drop, then retract his beats, as if holding his cards close to his chest, before placing them back on the table in a royal flush that boasts twinkling keyboard notes, bubbles of electronic soundtracks and an emphatic Passion Pit-style hip hop close.

Anomie Belle’s vocals crop up regularly on the album, most noticeably on the brooding D Song, whose rumbling bassline changes the mood, declaring with an almost stalkerish grin and a Portishead air, “You cannot keep a secret from me”. That trip hop pace continues with lead single Film Burn, lifting the darkness by injecting woozy, sunny moods forged by loops, acoustic guitars and reverb-soaked lyrics. It’s these qualities that filter their way through the album, so that it keeps an arm’s length from shoegaze.

At times, the pace edges into breakbeat territory, with R Mullen’s Moby pulse and soul sampling. At other moments – Happy To See You and Paper Knife, among a handful of cases in point – there are distinct post rock drum beats and meandering, breezy shoegaze guitars; the end result always vast, expansive and inherently soaked in lust for life. One of Eighty One’s strengths is to refrain from tailing off into a diminished second half, instead, letting exuberant beats play the lead role reminiscent of UNKLE at their most joyous, and least introspective.

Despite the loose production, there’s a real complexity here that is easily forgotten because the album is so easy to listen to. Soon Enough floats with an off-time rhythm and soft, rhythmic folk guitars and melancholic vocals. But it’s signed off with a fuzzy drum ‘n’ bass beat, where Corrales fully shows off his aptitude for seamlessly stepping his tracks up a notch or two, to punctuate the close with fizz. And the album treats us to one last dose of this technique with Her Star Won’t Shine, using a mix of tabla drums and psychedelic guitars as the building blocks from which to drop a glitchy, trip hop beat that’s packed with samples.

Eighty One is a daydream soaked in the serotonin of morning sun, with a myriad of parts and influences that melt into one another to make one magnificent whole. A melange of ‘yippee’ and ‘hurrah’ – or ‘happy’, backwards, if you will – Yppah has created an album that is quite simply exhilarating. An ideal culmination of his work to date, it’s both epic and sensitive and deserves to be placed among this year’s cohort of exemplar albums.

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Yppah – Eighty One