THEPRP REVIEWS

Baroness Yellow & Green

Relapse Records 2012

Staying outside the lines.

Baroness - Yellow & Green

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To limit the spectrum of colors featured on “Yellow & Green” to only two almost feels like a misnomer. For there are far more shades at play here than the title would suggest. Essentially a double album packaged as one, the effort is split into two halves with yellow comprising tracks 1 to 9; while green runs from tracks 10 to 18.

This intended color differentiation isn’t merely superficial packaging. For it also defines the movements and tone of the release. The yellow half features a wealth of classic rock bombast and organic fuzzy grit. Meanwhile, the green album delves headlong into stark melody and electronic experimentation.

In case the above description didn’t spell it out for you—”Yellow & Green” finds Baroness largely severing the ties to their burly metallic roots. If the “Blue Record” was these Georgia natives entering the cocoon; then “Yellow & Green” is their melodic metamorphosis—a full-fledged sonic reawakening as a far more delicate beast.

Flourishing on melody and atmospheric groove, the weighty force of old is present here—though largely only in spirit. Thankfully the engaging artistry and penchant for inventive songwriting remains in full bloom. What truly characterizes “Yellow & Green” though is ambition, but it can come at the cost of overall focus.

It’s a thin line they bend adroitly, but there are occasions where their enthusiasm for upheaval can become overwhelming. However, given the breadth of this release, it seems like at least a small amount of listener alienation is intended. Especially on songs like “Cocanium“, whose clipped-sounding snare hits and catchy beat give propulsion to a spacey excursion.

The implementation of atmospheric sound effects, such as the buzz of flies in “Twinkler“; and the zooms and swooshes that compliment the dense plodding of “Collapse” will also likely catch listeners off guard. That said, a few may find there to be too much diversity at play on this album. As the broad range can detract from the intimacy of the outfit.

For instance, the triumphant solo in “Little Things” sounds like it was taken from the Queen catalogue. “Sea Lungs” harkens to the ascendant restlessness of Muse; “Eula” mines Pink Floyd‘s vast soundscapes; while “Board Up The House” rides out a churning poppy bass groove with Torche-like expertise.

These similarities, if not influences, are innumerable. While they don’t define the very songs, they certainly cloud the distinct core of them. With that being said it’s entirely possible that “Yellow & Green” will mark the crossroads of Baroness‘ career. The rare album that redefines an already established band and endears them to another audience entirely.

Whatever its lasting impact may be, it indelibly signifies Baroness‘ arrival as a major creative force.

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