The Dreadful Yawns – Take Shape

The Dreadful Yawns
Take Shape

First things first: it would be easy to take this band’s name and revolve the entire review around it. It could either be construed a self-fulfilling prophecy or a “clever” joke, and either way, it’s bullshit. The Dreadful Yawns are much too dynamic of a band to subject it to that.

The sound of Take Shape is mostly borrowed from the psych rock and folk of the 60s and 70s, but while many of the group’s contemporaries (Flaming Lips, Man Man, Animal Collective) have taken that and turned it into art rock weirdness, the Dreadful Yawns has built a record based not only on abstract ideas, but also on catchy jangle and memorable boy/girl vocal harmonies. Byrds-esque folk (“Like Song,” “All For Me”) is accompanied by driving, upbeat performances (“Kill Me Now,” “Queen And The Jokester”).

The first 7 tracks of the album mostly fall into typical pop song length and structure, but on the last three songs, the band opens up musically to positive results. “All The Dead Soldiers” is a slow-burning Neil Young pastiche that ends with an extended organ drone and some surprising Latin jazz-influenced drumming. “Don’t Know What I’ve Been On” begins as possibly the catchiest song on the record and quickly escalates into the type of madness the aforementioned Man Man and Animal Collective excel at. Guitar noise and insane drumming with extended breaks color the middle 6 minutes of the song until a VU-inspired acoustic reprise of the initial verses carries it out.

The album’s finest moment is also its last. “Mood Assassin” is a seven minute tour of the Yawns’ repertoire. Starting with a noise intro, it quickly drops into a quiet verse with Elizabeth Kelly on lead vocals. The quiet/loud dynamic continues until about the three minute mark when the rest of the song is jammed out with noisy guitars and gorgeous violin playing. It’s the perfect end to an album that gets stronger as it goes and an interesting look at the band’s considerably high ceiling.