i was really prepared to dislike it- i didn't like her previous album, don't much like tweeness, find vocalists with contrived voices deeply irritating usually...
but, really, one listen and all the scepticism vanished. it's a wonderful record, simultaneously incredibly dense, complex, proggy, and poppy, hooky. it's one of all too few albums that it's a real 'event' to listen to; you properly leave the real world for a bit.
Yes, this is very good. It does have all the hallmarks of something one might really hate, the high vocals, the elaborate orchestration, but somehow instead it all turns into something very lyrical and beautiful. The music seems very narrative to me, always developing forward in interesting new ways, explaining new twists and turns in whatever strange/wonderful story she's telling. Yeah, proggy, poppy, weird, lovely, a real solid construction you can grapple with.
I've only heard the tracks "Cosmia" and "Monkey & Bear" (thx to fellow dissensian, pokinatcha) but both are very beautiful, and very compelling pieces of music. Imho. Excellent orchestration, interesting arrangements, and gorgeous melodies tumbling forth for seven to nine minute swaths at a time (as noted by others above). I can't wait to hear the whole record.
YS I really really like it but do think the van dyke parks treatment is a little too laboured - there is far too much orchestration for me which suffocates her excellent songs and voice- having heard her solo version of media and a few of the others songs performed last year at the greenman, which was utterly moving-I think it looses some of the intensity, with too many violin flourishes. But my overal verdict is its excellent though.
I feel "stupid" when listening to Ys .. I can't follow the beat .. it's like she change it too often.. 3/4, then 4/4, then whatever .. it does'nt have a "normal flow" .. but the notes/melodies are nice.. but not as catchy as her former album..
"Joanna Newsom has created a work whose startling originality could, like Astral Weeks or Horses before, set a new musical standard for a generation. She tells Sean O'Hagan what drives her to write her epic, mesmerising songs"
Well, what think we of Ian Penman's rather negative take on Ys, especially in regard to that observer article linked above? It's the first really negative thing i've read about the album yet. I have heard neither Astral Weeks nor Horses (gasp! horror of horrors, i know), so can't comment on their relative quality, and umm well, I'm still trying to figure out what the hell she is talking about throughout the album, but the snippets that do become clear during the songs (like the "meteorite..." line quoted above) are quite beautiful and evocative, i think. I still find the whole album engagingly odd and enjoy the disorienting feeling of trying to figure out where she's going with the whole thing.
That said, I fear Penman's straw-man description of the average Ys fan may turn out to be more true than I'd like--I expect a lot more purple-prosed reviews like that in the observer once the ablum's released. [but not me of course! i listen to strict diet of pop music and minimal house really, really i do]
Finally picked this up today... gorgeous. Def worth the hype in my opinion.
It amuses me to see hippy folk and prog actually kind of being where it's at these days (at least in the "underground") for the first time since the great hippy/prog/folk fall from hipdom of the late 70s. Even if this kind of stuff isn't completely new, at least it hasn't been cool for such a long time that it may be more ripe for influence and rethinking than the rather played out Velvet/Stooges/punk/indie continuum.
I'm actually very excited to see where indiedom might go in the second half of this decade... a psychedelic and prog sensibility may be just the remedy to all the sameness.
Now, I'm already on record as loving this album, and the more I understand what she's singing, the more my appreciation for the album grows, BUT a comparison has entered my head recently that has me a bit worried. She's playing in Vancouver at St. Andrew Wesley Cathedral, which hosts lots of indie-type concerts, but the last time I actually went to a concert there was in 2002 for...Sigur Ros. And it strikes me that there's a whole lot of similarity both in the music and in the critical reaction between these two. Problem is I haven't listened to any of Sigur Ros's albums in at least a year, and generally have lost interest in them. They were my last epic-heartrending-indie crush (as a break between all that techno and grime ), but now looking back it seems, like all crushes, almost...embarrassing. So, is Joanna doomed to that same fate??? Say it ain't so...
I'm pretty disappointed with it. I was a big fan of Milk-Eyed Mender, thought it was a beautiful album. This is just too over-egged somehow. Van Dyke Parks isn't exactly Mr Restraint and it's just over-fussy and overpretty. What I loved about M.E.M. was the although it was quite intricate and 'pretty', it was also fairly sparsely recorded.
But I'm persistently being told I'm wrong / haven't listened to it enough / wasn't wearing the right socks, so I haven't given up hope...
I think it's one of the best things released in ages. It seems to work in an unfolding manner - hooking me in with the tunes and slowly the words work their way clear and into my head. Found myself singing them on a long cycle ride recently - i was surprised how quickly it had embedded itself into my memory.
i went and downloaded some live tracks after getting Ys - i think they may be even better than the studio stuff - certainly her voice is even more compelling.