Album review: YACHT’s 1980s vision of the future

Words by Dalton Woods

YACHT’s latest LP, I Thought the Future Would Be Cooler, once again sees the Los Angeles-based electroclash band drawing heavily on both new wave and the bands of the 2000s that already drew heavily on new wave.

The opening track, Miles & Miles, sets the synth-punk tone of the album, combining digital effects and electric guitars with Claire L. Evans’ vocals, which become easily recognisable as the album progresses. White Mirror is a cheesy miscalculation of a pop song. YACHT channels Talking Heads on Matter, with its syncopated rhythms and sharp strums of the guitar, only it has none of the song-writing ability and personality that David Byrne provides. Ringtone is straight up grating. The album finds some form in the middle with I Thought the Future Would Be Cooler followed by L.A. Plays Itself, both of which succeed on the simple basis of a driving beat and an earworm chorus.

I Wanna Fuck You Till I’m Dead begins refreshingly with an effect-heavy guitar and a melodic verse, until vocoders take control of the track. Hologram is a small scale electro-funk tune that again relies on digital effects on the vocals, to greater effect in this instance. The following track, Don’t Be Rude, after an energetic and irresistible opening verse, is let down slightly by a goofy – with reference to sound and lyrical content – chorus. Electric guitars feature most heavily on War on Women, however it goes along at the same pace with the same vocal delivery as the other tracks. Closing track, The Entertainment, continues the trend of heavily digitally altered vocals and dance rhythms. The tracks start to sound similar early on, with little variation in the vocals, rhythm, and instrumentation.

On this album, YACHT continues to employ a sound whose revival peaked about five years ago when LCD Soundsystem and Cut Copy were seamlessly combining dance floor fun with electric guitars. This would be fine if the hooks were sufficiently catchy, the synth patterns sufficiently well crafted, the beats sufficiently infectious, the tracks sufficiently varied, but the album is, for the most part, disappointingly pedestrian.

Playing with syncopation, vocoders, and synths, at least in the way that YACHT does on this record, is not particularly interesting or inventive, and I Thought the Future Would Be Cooler has little else to offer. It’s a regressive approach and it’s a regression for YACHT, whose earlier work, especially I Believe in You. Your Magic Is Real, demonstrated founding member Jona Bechtolt’s ability for pairing pop melodies with dance rhythms, filtered through eclectic and exotic genres. The new album, despite being one-note, is somewhat redeemed by moments of solid pop song-writing that elevate it beyond total schlock.

YACHT may feel that they have something interesting to say regarding 21st Century society – as suggested by the album’s quirky title and the lyrical focus on distinctly modern issues – however they fail to write or perform anything that will really make you pay attention. Relying on lyrics, which are not a strength of theirs, was also one of the shortcomings of their 2011 album Shangri-La.

The fascination with the 80s’ vision of the future, and its incongruence with the present, has been put to music more than enough times in the past decade, and yet YACHT still chose to focus on this worn out concept and use a worn out sound.