I was first introduced to Yam Haus in February of last year. My friend and I walked into their show and instantly gave each the “Oh yeah, this band has it!” look. It’s crazy how you can just call it on a band. I knew at that moment that these boys were going to be big. Now I find myself on a Saturday morning thumbing through my collection of albums to review excited to see their album “Stargazer” as one of my options. I unwrapped the CD with a sense of excitement and that excited feeling continued to grow as I pushed the album into my stereo and hit play.
The album starts off with the title track “Stargazer”. It instantly sets the mood for what is to come. A spacey intro gives way to the party-like vibe that made me fall in love with them that fateful day in February. Poppy vocals take over the atmospheric setting and it’s impossible to not find something almost comforting in vocalist Lars Pruitt’s voice. Calm and collected yet full of energy and passion, his voice twirls around the upbeat instrumentation behind it. An almost disco-like vibe to the track, this was exactly what I needed to get through my current hangover.
The fun-loving energy continues as the album moves into “West Coast”. Lars’ voice seems to take on a new sense of power for this track while still keeping this comforting sense of calm that is laid out on the first track. Like many of the songs on this thirteen song album, I was instantly transported back to seeing them live. I could see the young members crammed on the stage at The 7th Street Entry right in front of me as if they were performing in my living room. This just goes to show that this band isn’t trying to be anything other than what they are. Fun and up-beat, “West Coast” flowed into “Kingdom” with ease. Heavy on the synth sound that reigns supreme throughout this album, “Kingdom” slows things down a little bit when it comes to Lars’ dancing voice but the driving drum hits from drummer Jake Felstow keeps the energy high. A definite radio-friendly song, “Kingdom” screams Jonas Brothers opening act. Creative and unique while remaining accessible to the masses, this track proves that Yam Haus knows exactly what they are doing and they are doing it damn well.
“Get Somewhere” brings a sense of sensitivity to the album. More delicate yet still a song that makes you want to dance around while pouring your fourth cup of coffee, the gang vocals are what got me on this song. Although typical lyrics about falling in love and not being able to do anything about it, the way Lars presents the lyrics make it feel anything but typical. The swooning vocals alongside the goosebump inducing gang vocals and electro-pop instrumentation make “Get Somewhere” one of my favorite tracks on this album.
Piano kicks off “Too Many People” which, if you’ve been reading my reviews lately, you know this gets me. Taking the sensitivity laid out in “Get Somewhere” and expanding it, “Too Many People” is one of those songs that makes you want to slow dance with your loved one or your cat depending on where you’re at in life. I love the lyrics in this song. “There’s too any people to not have people who you love.” I mean, simple, so simple, but also so real and something that isn’t said enough. The simple yet somehow so complex lyrics continue to be the name of the game as the album rolls into the sixth track “Right Now, Forever”. A love song for the masses, the beautiful and compassionate vibe that has been building throughout the previous songs seems to come to a peak during this one. With the driving drums falling out and being replaced by an acoustic guitar strumming along to a flowing line of notes, “Right Now, Forever” shows a side of this band that I have never seen or heard when seeing them live but I wish that would change. There’s so much beauty in this song that I’m sure, if I was watching it live, I would have tears in my eyes.
During the quick “You Need Love (Stargazer Reprise)” track the listener is gracefully snapped out of the world of sad love songs and back into the infectious poppy world that the first couple of songs on this album created. “Bad News” is the perfect followup to the reprise. It starts slow as if still easing you back into the dance world but within just a couple of seconds, you are hit with a funky and up-beat sound. While clearly still building the energy back up, the skipping bass line and driving drum sound becomes more and more energetic as the song plays. I thought the next song would have me dancing around my apartment but the beginning “Carry Me Home” knocks the album back in the calming world that “Right Now, Forever” set the stage for. I talk about certain albums having a rollercoaster type of effect– “Stargazer” is the epitome of that.
I finally got my chance to dance again during “We Are The Storm”. One of the more rocking tracks on this album, there is a sense of assertiveness in this song both from the vocals and instrumentation that seems to come out of left field while still clearly being from Yam Haus. “This Won’t Be The Last Time” takes that assertiveness and adds an 80’s vibe to it. Heavy on the synthesizer sound that was introduced at the beginning of the album, this is a song that I could easily hear being played at a dance party. The beat makes you want to dance like a fool and I mean that in the best possible way. Free and fun-loving, “This Won’t Be The Last Time” definitely stood out as one of my favorites on this album.
“Groovin’ (That Feel Good Song)” is up next and, well the name says it all. Another song that I could easily see this band performing live in my living room, the energy in this song is undeniable. Singing about spending too many hours watching Netflix and staring at your phone, this is one of those songs that is relateable regardless of if you’re eighteen or nearly thirty. Regardless of age, this song literally gets you “Groovin'”. I was still rocking out at my desk to the beat of “Groovin’ (That Feel Good Song)” as the album came to an end with “Something Better”. A bit of a shock to the system, “Something Better” is the slowest and most calm song on the album so hearing that after the contagious beat of “Groovin’ (That Feel Good Song)” was definitely a surprise but a good one. It’s the type of song that makes it impossible to get off the rollercoaster that is ‘Stargazer’.
I’ve seen Yam Haus perform live a couple of times and each time I always tell whoever I’m with that they should expect big things from this young band. Listening to their album ‘Stargazer’ just solidified my opinion.
My Favorite Track(s): “Get Somewhere”; “This Won’t Be The Last Time”; “Groovin’ (That Feel Good Song”
Chances Of Getting A Noise Complaint While Listening To In An Apartment: 7.8 out of 10
Dance-ability: 8.9 out of 10
What My Cats Thought Of It: Artemis Tried To Knock My Coffee Over; Autumn Slept Right By My Speakers
How Badly I Want To See This Performed Live: 10 out of 10 (Trick Question- I know they kill it live)
My Overall Rating: 4.7 out of 5
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