Lars Pruitt (Vocals, Guitar), Seth Blum (Electric Guitar), Jake Felstow (Drums) and Zach Beinlich (Bass) make up the clean-cut, groovy, modern pop-rock outfit Yam Haus that has dropped its 13 song album, “Stargazer”. Some albums take several plays for them to really grow on me. This is not one of those albums. The songs on this recording are so catchy that you’ll find yourself singing along on the first play through. Granted, they cheat a little bit by using familiar sounding hooks that have for some reason, been running around in your head for ages. You just don’t know why, and from where they come. Well now you do. Yam Haus combine stirring and soaring anthems with mature, contemplative lyrics on life, love, heartbreak and the everyday longings and struggles millions of us experience. Though not always pronounced, there is an underlying positivity and sense of hope in their music.
Slick beats, rich vocals, EDM-ish builds, synths, guitars and smart song progressions are sprinkled throughout these songs, and you might get a case of whiplash with how rapidly this album yanks you, back and forth, between surprisingly enjoyable modern pop-rock and dance tunes, and brilliant grabs at Top 40 radio hits. Wedging the groove of ‘West Coast’ between two infinitely more urgent tracks such as ‘Stargazer’ and ‘Kingdom’ certainly starts the album off on a very steady footing indeed.
‘Get Somewhere’ is a huge splash of contemporary alt-pop, with its sunny guitars, shuffling beat and irresistibly massive chorus with chanting harmonies. ‘Too Many People’ is slightly slower, but follows its predecessor’s formula, with its lush sound and big choruses. Pop can sometimes be a dirty word.
In its infancy, it was a softer alternative to Rock, but when we look at Pop music today, it incorporates elements that span various genres. Yam Haus appear to successfully blend this multi-flavored genre with their rockier roots.
Listen to how they deliver their straightforward mid-tempo ballad, ‘Right Now, Forever’ and then catch a glimpse of how they suddenly push the boundaries with well vocally-orchestrated ‘You Need Love (Stargazer Reprise)’. ‘Bad News’ is one of the real head turners of the album.
The vocal hook, synth basslines and steady drums, give the song an interesting, groovy backbone. Even more surprising is how well the group mixes together all of their modern sounds in the dreamy, drifting chorus. It’s a delightful slice of rhythmic and melodically-driven pop.
‘Carry Me Home’ reaches the soul stirring and enormous heights of Yam Haus’ best songs. The vocals, as always, shine with Lars Pruitt’s far-reaching cords running the gamut of its range in utter freewheeling overdrive.
‘We Are The Storm’ kicks off with a definite sense of urgency, propped up by a percussive underbelly and carried through with a set of anthemic choruses. Without a doubt, this is another album highlight. The EDM-ish breakdown and buildup elements come to the fore on the laser-sharp ‘This Won’t be the last Time’.
‘Groovin’ (That Feel Good Song)’ follows immediately and doesn’t let up with the feel-good factor, leaving ‘Something Better’ to close the album down with some melancholic nostalgia. And they hit it out of the park with this one.
It is a very moving song and a nice way to go out. Overall, “Stargazer” is well-polished, the production is clean, though never overdone, with vocals, guitar and synths coming across clearly. If anything is certain though, Yam Haus is sure to cement themselves as stalwarts of the modern pop-rock scene, and if they continue as they are, they will be gracing playlists for a long time to come.