Anyone who appreciates concept albums and well-crafted songs will find much to discover and enjoy on Yellow & Green by Baroness -out July 17 on Relapse Records
Review by David Feltman
“I heard your eyes have touched your tongue,” sing the synaesthetic Savannah natives of Baroness on “Back Where I Belong.” No other line sums up the essence of the band so concisely. The third full-length album, Yellow & Green, continues the band’s sonic palate motif. However, the presentation seems more like a massive double EP rather than a full-fledged album.
Clearly demarcated by its title colors, both Yellow and Green receive their own themes and an additional eight tracks. And while the color and sound conceit may seem old hat for Baroness by now, the band has made some significant changes to its sound to complement chosen pigments. The sludge of previous efforts has been transformed into something more drone/noise oriented, happy to linger and meditate on the echoes. The vocals, this time around, are almost entirely clean and the songs are, despite the penchant for drone, very melodic. This is by far their most accessible album to date. However, it is sometimes barely, if at all, technically metal.
That isn’t meant as a slight. Baroness is certainly a band that cares more about its craft than coloring within the lines of genre labels. Taken in their rightful turns, Yellow & Green is neither as crisp and heated as Red, nor as cold and harsh as Blue. Yellow is a warm and fuzz-ridden piece that occasionally ventures into pastoral territories. Green is lush and jazzy with the distortion pulled way back, but provides plenty of crunch when it’s warranted. Green is the sound of a jungle, not an angry metal jungle ravaged by saber-tooth battle cats, but a tropical paradise filled with wonder and curiosities.
There are numerous small and subtle experiments that pay off in a big way. A buzzing, like a swarm of angry bees, permeates Yellow and overtly bookends “Twinkler,” “Little Things” and “Cocanium.” The opening drum pattern in “Foolsong” mimics the fluttering of bird wings, giving the impression of a flock taking off from the undergrowth. The two sides have so much to offer that they could have easily been developed into separate albums. But, side-by-side the two colors compliment each other well.
While not nearly as heavy as previous releases, Yellow & Green finds Baroness keeping its sound fresh by taking creative risks. New bassist Matt Maggioni proves he’s up to filling Summer Welch’s spot. This is particularly evident when considering the strange and dissonant bass lines on tracks like “Little Things.” Anyone who appreciates concept albums and well-crafted songs will find much to discover and enjoy on Yellow & Green.
You can find songs from Yellow & Green at the band’s official site: http://baronessmusic.com/