Upon queueing up Yes Yes Yes in iTunes, one thing becomes immediately apparent: this is not the kind of album you listen to on laptop speakers. Three years of recording, production and mastering work went into Yes Yes Yes, and the result is a stunningly written, recorded and produced album.
I reluctantly take advantage of the several thousand dollars worth of stereo equipment that my father purchased over the weekend (thanks, midlife crisis!) and pop in the CD. The opening one-two of "Landlocked" and "In the Sea & Air", something I'm used to seeing Elsinore close out their shows with, works exceedingly well as an opener. Setting the tone for the rest of the album, which marries in-your-face, live production with enough vocal layers to make Elliott Smith blush — indeed, when I talked to lead singer/guitarist Ryan Groff a few days ago, he mentioned Figure 8 as a major stylistic influence. In fact, the production that Adam Schmitt and Anthony Gravino bring to the album very nearly qualifies them as full-members. I can't remember hearing an album (local or not) that sounds so damn heavy, yet light on its feet. "Chemicals" is the most obvious example of this, as a small army of vocal, guitar, bass and keyboard tracks fly along above Dave Pride's thunderous drumming, which somehow manages to not only keep pace with the rest of the group, but push them forward.
Three songs on Yes Yes Yes also appeared on Groff's 2007 solo album, People in the Midwest, and if I were forced to pick something to criticize about Yes Yes Yes, the electric re-working of "Lines" is simply not my cup of tea. But — it's still a great song, and the fact that the "worst" moment on the album is still pretty awesome simply highlights how great the songwriting on Yes Yes Yes is.
Ultimately, Yes Yes Yes is the portrait of a band about to break out onto a larger level, possibly a national level. While that may sound like a tall order, if there were ever an album that could fill it, this is that album.
Elsinore will perform a free set this afternoon beginning at 5 p.m. at Parasol Records in Urbana. They also perform this Saturday at the Canopy Club with Canasta and Common Loon. Additionally, check back on Friday for an in-depth interview with Ryan Groff.