Lost Animal (aka Jarrod Quarrell) is back with his latest release You Yang. The juxtaposition between the artwork of 2011’s Ex Tropical and new release You Yang seemingly provides interesting visual insight into Lost Animal‘s growth between records. However, rather than growing up it feels like Lost Animal has, on certain tracks, merely haphazardly added effects to their already established sound. As Lost Animal ages, perhaps he’s attempting to make his sound more experimental and lively. The process of listening to, or experiencing, You Yang aligns much more closely with the brightness of Ex Tropical’s cover, as it feels youthful and confused.
Opener ‘Leave It On The Street’ is a nice, albeit, incredibly long track, however, the vocals are smooth and pleasant, and when combined with the dreamy synth instrumentation, makes for a pleasant listen. The track is however stretched too far, and by the 3-minute mark, the song doesn’t take any interesting progressions and sadly loses its draw. By halving the length of the track and making it a short intro, ‘Leave It On The Street’ could’ve kicked off the LP to greater effect.
‘Where It Ends’ takes an all too similar route. The track begins again with smooth vocals and futuristic synths, only to dissolve into quite the ordinary track. The only attempt at an interesting turn comes with the addition of an oddly, and annoyingly, tuned saxophone. The intention of strengthening the track by breaking it up is clear, although fails. ‘Where It Ends’ is a strong example of most of the records tracks having their potential diminished by a mismatch of elements.
‘Do The Jerk’ is by far one of the most enjoyable tracks on You Yang. Much like the rest of the record, a lot of sounds are packed into 5-minutes. Fortunately, ‘Do The Jerk’ melds all of its sounds and elements in an extremely cohesive and pleasing way and the female backing vocals during the chorus are simply sublime. Unfortunately, the track is let down by the addition of a jarring violin. Peace of mind would be easily achieved if the record was an overall disappointment, but the fact that the track is so close to perfection is maddening.
‘Message For The Future’ scrapes ahead as the key track of You Yang. The droning synth of the intro could’ve spelled disaster, given how You Yang plays out, but Lost Animal has composed the track flawlessly. Unlike ‘Where It Ends’, the addition of saxophone (with more familiar-sounding tuning) to the track, in this instance, adds a bold liveliness. ‘Message For The Future’ is loud and exciting, yet mature, in all the ways one hoped You Yang would be. The explosive, scuzzy instrumental backdrop make the track’s vocals stand out triumphantly. Quarrell’s vocals here are overall very controlled, almost coming across as spoken word, with the exception of the occasional contagiously powerful yell. ‘Where It Ends’ is undoubtedly a diamond in the rough of You Yang.
Tracks like ‘Prisoners Island’, ‘Take Care Stay Safe’, and ‘Too Late To Die Young’ are arranged acceptabley, but are missing the oomph from tracks ‘Do The Jerk’ and ‘Message For The Future’. ‘Do The Jerk’ still triumphs over these tracks despite the let-down of its violin. The record comes to an end on the acoustic, dreary ‘New Years Day’. Whereas most of the other tracks had too much going on, they were at least interesting and carried some semblance of musical depth.
Although You Yang is not as expertly executed as one would have hoped, the passion, honesty, and skill of the music is apparent. Unfortunately the fact that most of the tracks are so close to being perfect is somewhat disappointing. In the end, You Yang is without a doubt interesting and divisive – and that’s what art is all about.
You Yang is out now via Dot Dash and Remote Control Records