I think it was later last year that I heard that Do Make Say Think would be releasing a new album that I started getting a bit anxious. Even though big name artists like Boards Of Canada and DJ Shadow were going to be dropping albums around the same time, I couldn't get the Canadian duo out of my head. After a great self-titled debut album, they seemingly put all their strong points together and constructed the amazing Goodbye Enemy Airship The Landlord Is Dead, which lept its way right near the top of my year end list for 2000 and firmly planted them in my mind as a group who were doing great things.
Whenever a group releases such a strong album, it's almost hard for me to actually sit down and press play on their follow-up. I'm always worried that I won't like it as much or that I'll have build up an amount of hype in my head that the band can't possibly overcome. It's all rather silly, actually, but those feelings seemed to mount even as I finally pulled & Yet & Yet out of its luscious packaging (as always from Constellation) and placed it in the CD platter. What I was greeted with immediately was a much more rich sound. One of the interesting qualities about Goodbye Enemy Airship The Landlord Is Dead was an almost pastoral feel that the group got from recording the disc in an old barn. At points in the tracks you could hear crickets and other noises, and far from distracting, it served as another interesting layer to the release. This time around, the group still use most of the same gear, but after recording most of the different tracks, it was taken into the studio and juiced up a bit and other small touches were added.
The disc opens with "Classic Noodlanding," and after a few seconds of digital squiggles, the group settles into a simple groove, with some analog synths, guitar, and only a hi-hat providing a skeletal framework. As the track progresses, a bass works its way into the mix as different percussion rains down more heavily until finally a thick low-end groove winds in behind things and really moves the track along. The beautiful guitar interplay everything I liked about the group is still there, it's just a little bit more rich sounding. "End Of Music" starts out with another winning combination, as again a thick bottom end anchors the track while some quiet synths and guitars glimmer across the surface as the drums build. After building for almost half the track, it all comes together into an explosion in the stratosphere as the drums turn into propulsive, pounding beasts while guitars and keyboards melt together in a shimmering haze that builds for awhile longer before breaking off and sending you slowly fluttering back down to earth.
Just as you think the group is going to lapse into something more typical (as with the more jazzy, but funky beginning of "White Light Of"), the thick percussion shears off into a polyrhythm and layers of keyboards sweep in with full effervescence while horns add yet another layer to the beauty. "Chinatown" gurgles along with a more electronic rhythm and a simple keyboard melody, while "Reitschule" builds into another elaborate frenzy of chiming guitars and keyboards over the course of over 9 minutes. It's "Soul And Onward" that might be the gem of the entire album, though. Moving along with an assured and steadily building rhythm, the track is the first by the group to contain vocals, and it works like a charm. With Tamara Williamson singing in a voice that is somewhere between operatic and downright angelic, horns are again added and blended with a subtle hand between the two soaring elements while the other elements chug along underneath. If I hear a more beautiful track this year, I'll be surprised.
The disc closes out with another longer, slower track (as the group has a habit of doing with each disc), and they build it into keyboard drenched haze before fading out, then back again for a reprise. & Yet & Yet is another assured step by a group who is in my eyes very overlooked. As mentioned above, they've shown definite improvements with each album, and this one is no different. The full-bodied sound works well for the group, and the album is rich, uplifting, and at times downright intoxicating. If you've been interested in the group but have until now put off actually hearing them, your waiting should be over.