YACHT: Shangri-La

B

YACHT

Album: Shangri-La
Label: DFA Records

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Heaven, Talking Heads once argued, isn’t the most happening neighborhood in the afterlife. YACHT’s Shangri-La doesn’t subscribe to that theory—though it does take a few songs for Jona Bechtolt and Claire L. Evans to blow the doors off their disco at the edge of Zion. Nonetheless, as a loose concept album built around notions of utopia, apocalypse, enlightenment, and true love (based on musical blueprints left by sainted influences like the Heads and YACHT’s label bosses in LCD Soundsystem), Shangri-La is completely justified in its delayed gratification. Such topics are dance-music standbys as hoary as four-on-the-floor beats and neon-streaked synthesizer textures, and Shangri-La doesn’t do much to breathe fresh life into them. But in its own naïve way, YACHT rejuvenates the scenery in this vision of paradise by casting things in an extremely literal light. Yes, the ideal of euphoric, collective musical release is at the core of “Paradise Engineering” and the pocket epic “I Walked Alone”—but those tracks are also rooted in science-fiction-damaged images of a crumbling society stumbling toward transcendence. Like the sequential lyrics of the record’s “One Step,” the entirety of Shangri-La threatens to turn cloyingly twee, but Bechtolt’s itchy sonics and Evans’ husky deadpan maintain a straight face amid the record’s otherworldly premise. Their heaven is a place where nothing new ever happens—though there’s always a reason to crowd the dance floor. 

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