[LAPTOP LOVE] It's an unfortunate truth that great expectations often lead to letdowns. Considering Jona Bechtolt, a.k.a. YACHT, is also the Blow's "I.T. guy" (as Pitchfork so perfectly put it), holding his third release, I Believe in You. Your Magic Is Real., feels downright dangerous.
The album doesn't disappoint, but it also doesn't quite live up to the superb electro-pop of the Blow's Paper Television—on which Bechtolt provided beats, mixes and much of the songwriting. Perhaps that's an unfair standard by which to judge YACHT—a more freeform, production-over-personality, collaborative affair—but Bechtolt's going to be "the dude from the Blow" for a good while whether he likes it or not.
He's making a large effort here to dissolve that link, however, by bringing in outsiders—notably master croonsmith Bobby Birdman—and meta elements aplenty. On "It's All the Same Price," he goes so far as to personally introduce a house techno solo (the first ever?) by San Fran duo Eats Tapes. Likewise, on "I Believe in You," Bechtolt cuts in to say, "Wait a second, we've got to change the beat." For the most part, these interruptions are more funny than irritating—until you hit "Drawing in the Dark," a track with a purposefully off-kilter opening harmony and quick techno coda that feels like the product of late-night studio goofing.
"Post 'Em All," introduced on last summer's Halleluwah Festival comp, is precisely the opposite: Its layered guitars, looping hand drums, backseat vocals and laptop chop could be the best, most distinctive thing the 26-year-old has ever done. Sure, its anthemic follow-up, "See a Penny (Pick It Up)," is a ridiculously catchy live staple and a guaranteed party "pick-me-up," but "Penny" relies more on its swooping choral hook and chirping melody than interesting textures. On "It's All the Same Price," Bechtolt's in hook mode again, but he moves into a nice 'n' long, intensely detailed instrumental dancefloor mix before dropping back into sharp chant-alongs perfect for Buy Nothing Day (the "it" in the title refers to love).
This is, indeed, Bechtolt stepping out of the Blow's shadow. Though Believe isn't YACHT's explosion—his own Paper Television—it is (at the very least) the solid promise of a YACHT explosion to come.
I Believe in You. Your Magic Is Real