The outstanding video for “Ambling Alp” is a surrealistic journey of a mirror-faced horse-rider through a desert with naked humans, suggesting a sci-fi scene set perhaps in 2080. But the music is also unmistakeably 1980s in its outlook – listen to the slabs of cold reverbs, long digital delays, synthesisers, and drum machines. The snare drum at the end of every alternate bar in “Ambling Alp” is pure Eighties.
Like many visionaries, Yeasayer’s forte lies in stealing ideas and putting together never-imagined possibilities. Odd Blood fuses (believe it or not) Michael Jackson’s wanna-be-starting-something grooves, Animal Collective’s rollicking exuberance, and Roxy Music’s just-barely-dramatic vocals. On “Ambling Alp”, listen out for the bridge, where lead singer Chris Keating’s voice is transformed impeccably into that of Alvin and the Chipmunks.
Yeasayer isn’t unjustifed in naming this song after Primo Carnera, a world heavyweight boxing champion who earned the nickname “Ambling Alp” for his gargantuan frame. The song punches incessantly throughout its duration, and drills its memorable chorus into your head. By the end of its 4 minutes, you can still hear the chorus even after it’s knocked you out. – Song-Ming Ang
Song-Ming Ang makes art about music. Write him a letter and get a mix CDR in return: www.circadiansongs.com