It took me a surprisingly long time to twig that Yppah is the word ‘happy’ spelt backwards. Once it clicked, however, it certainly seemed appropriate. They Know What Ghost Know is full of blissful, euphoric music. Whereas some electronica can feel a little cold and impersonal at times, this album is full of warmth. Even the song titles seem to suggest a lazy, warm day; ‘Gumball Machine Weekend’, ‘Sunflower Sunkissed’, ‘A Parking Lot Carnival’. The music is full of reverberating basslines, floaty synthesisers and tight, compressed drums. It still has a little sharpness to it, but the overall feel is one of relaxation.
‘Gumball Machine Weekend’ is the lead single for this album, and is built around the combination of a twinkly xylophone melody, spiky guitar chords and a laid-back, smooth bassline. The end result is a track that can just breeze by in the background if you’re not really listening to it, but can also catch your ear and have you entranced. The next track, ‘Playing With Fireworks’, is similarly understated, and reminiscent of some of M83’s more psychedelic output.
‘Shutter Speed’’s airy flutes and acoustic guitar just serve to add to the trance-like feel of the whole album. It floats around for nearly 4 minutes, never really going anywhere, but just weaving its hypnotic way around your brain. The title track has a hint more melancholy about it, but not so much as to break the mood. Building from a minimal opening to a crescendo of drumbeats and synthesisers, it represents one of the clear highlights of the album.
There are a couple of criticisms to throw at this album, however. Chief amongst these is that, well, it’s all a bit samey. Put the album on, and you probably won’t notice half of the track changes if you’re not really paying attention. A few songs do slow things down a bit, and the excellent ‘Bobbie Joe Wilson’ throws a bit more of a hip-hop slant into the mix, but none of them really change the basic formula much. The other issue is that there’s not much here that’s going to grab you and demand attention. All the songs are brilliantly crafted, but you do find yourself wishing that the hooks were just a bit more punchy. As it is, it’s far too easy to find half the album just passing you merrily by.
Still, these certainly aren’t massive flaws, and any fans of M83, The Album Leaf, Mr Scruff or other such bands should certainly give Yppah a try. If blissed-out instrumental rock with electronic elements sounds like something you might enjoy, I’d encourage you to seek out a track or two as well. Summer’s on its way in, and this could well be the perfect soundtrack to long sunny days spent doing very little.