As a music reviewer and critic, there are many times you wonder why you ever wanted to become such a thing in the first place.
The generic sound-a-like copycat bands and the just plain awful ones mount up, crowd out and confuse until the good stuff can sometimes get lost in a fog of disinterest and cynicism. Then an album comes along that restores the faith, as it were; that rekindles the love for the form and the joy you get from it. For this writer, Yellow & Green is one such release, an album close to his perfect ideal of what an experimental rock record should be.
Baroness has completly reinvented themselves with this sprawling, double-barreled 75-minute opus, to the point where they are barely recognisable much of the time. Yellow is the more faintly identifiable side of the band, where vestiges of Georgia sludge and the shadow of Mastodon remain, but as distant memories. The coarse, abrasive vocals have given way to more melodic trade-offs between John Baizley and Peter Adams and the gnarly, muscular rock embraces elements of post-grunge indie pop, giving way to expansive sections of ambience and hints of post-rock. As the first disc moves from the straight-up rocking of “Take My Bones Away” toward its end, the mood becomes more melancholy and sorrowful, culminating in “Eula”, a hauntingly emotional close to the first act; throughout there are crackles of noise and disharmonious sounds, distantly swirling electronica.
Green has an even more contemplative air, even if it comes out of the chilly ambience of the opening theme into the rousing pop of “Board Up the House”. It’s now that Baroness make almost a complete departure from themselves, the same departure reflected by Baizley’s lyrics, words deeply felt exploring the pain of the human condition. The passion and emotion is truly something to behold. Everyone will have a different highlight, a different favourite, but the song writing is so strong that only personal preference can be the judge. Green, and hence the album, ends with “If I Forget Thee, Lowcountry” that mimics the feel of the opening “Yellow Theme” of over an hour before, like a journey that turns full circle.
The difference between Blue Record and Yellow & Green could hardly be more stark as Baroness transcends their genre and becomes almost a new entity with a sweeping, sprawling, bold excursion into melancholic, emotional psychedelia . It’s a metamorphosis that carries an enormous amount of risk, but the realisation of it is so brilliant that this album is certain to be held in as high esteem as some of the classics in the decade to come, and beyond.
1. Yellow Theme
2. Take My Bones Away
3. March to the Sea
4. Little Things
7. Back Where I Belong
8. Sea Lungs
1. Green Theme
2. Board Up the House
3. Mtns (Crown and Anchor)
6. Psalms Alive
8. The Line Between
9. If I Forget Thee, Lowcountry