Ambitious and sprawling, Baroness’ double album Yellow & Green is never pompous or packed. The record is one of their best, demonstrating an audacious step forward into the domain of creativity and damn good songwriting.
There could be some argument about whether this is a double album or two separate albums effective as one release, but the genius that is the Georgia-based band’s latest remains all the same.
Fans that have come to know Baroness through their sludgy, loud metal music may find something sharply exceptional about Yellow & Green. The album lacks singer John Baizley’s scowling loudness and the band’s chugging swamp metal. In its place is a patchwork of inspirations and images, with tracks sounding like everything from Explosions in the Sky to the Foo Fighters. The band is every bit its matchless self, but this is evolution, baby.
As different as Yellow & Green is from Baroness’ previous colour-coded records, the two tinges of this piece of work operate in contrast. Yellow finds most of its power in more dynamic soil, while the songs of Green are smoother.
Even with the differences, Yellow & Green flows. It is an album in every sense of the splendid term, comprised of music that flows as effortlessly as it does artistically. The determined record never gets in its own way and Baroness never surrenders to the enticement of filler, instilling even the instrumentals with vitality and feeling.
After embarking with its own theme, the Yellow portion journeys into the anthemic “Take My Bones Away.” The track jams a lot into a small expanse, but it never crashes. There are keyboards and Pete Adams pounds away with one of the sludgiest guitar chunks on the record.
Through the Floyd-touched “Cocainium” and into the space rock of “Back Where I Belong,” the Yellow side is a passionate and charming rock record in its own right. But Baroness isn’t finished.
Green has its own theme and swings into the Southern rock of “Board Up the House,” with all its sing-song stroke, without missing a beat.
The music of the second portion is warmer, with tracks like “Foolsong” and “Collapse” giving Adams some space to create. On the humble “Stretchmarker,” the guitarist is in command with shrewd fretwork and meditative waves.
Yellow & Green draws to a close the only way it could. The instrumental of “If I Forget Thee, Lowcountry” is a beautiful piece that exemplifies just how far Baroness has come over the last ten years and just where the group is hoping to go. The album is immense without being cumbersome, proposing unexpected care through songs that would be just as at home in an arena as they would in headphones.