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Portland duo's trippy
apocalyptic disco-opera

YACHT - Shangri-La
(DFA Records)
3 stars (out of 5 stars)
Reviewed: June 24, 2011

Review by Tony Bonyata

On YACHT's fifth album, Shangri-La, the Portland, OR-based duo of Jona Bechtolt and Claire Evans have raygun-wedded together electro-dance-pop with dark sci-fi flights of fancy - creating some sort of singular and strange disco-opera.

Built around the premise of a post-apocalyptic utopia, the twosome sound positively invigorated even when things don't seem quite as sunny as their synth-saturated dance grooves would imply. "The earth is on fire. We don't have no daughter. Let the motherfucker burn," they chant throughout the buoyant beats and rubbery synth lines of "Dystopia." The dance party continues through tracks such as the percolating pop of "One Step," the robotic "I Walked Alone" and the icy indie coolness of "Love In The Dark." The twosome even incorporate some left-field African rhythms into the day-glow sheen of "Utopia," which wouldn't sound out of place on Talking Heads' 1980 masterpiece Remain In Light. Even Evans' rap-infused vocal delivery on "Paradise Engineering" sounds like a late-night brain-storming session between the Heads' David Byrne and producer Brian Eno.

Sure their heavy-handed, spacey, even cult-like themes and topics may come off weird and even goofy to many, but for those who are attracted to infectious beats and trippy, effervescent electro-pop then YACHT's new album will surely transport them to that mythical happy land, isolated from the outside world.

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