Songs From The Vanished Frontier, the second album from New York’s Yellowbirds, includes love songs and breakup songs, happy numbers and sad numbers, tunes about not believing in the truth and, alternately, tunes about delivering it. There’s bracing rock ‘n’ roll and bubbling folk, drifting jangle and swiveling R&B. But the thread that unites these nine instantly affecting songs is their search to find the signal amid the noise—that is, to understand the world and its whirlwind and to deliver just a little bit of clarity every three or four minutes.
Singer, guitarist and songwriter Sam Cohen—who first came to prominence as part of the experimental psych rock band Apollo Sunshine—founded Yellowbirds as an outlet for new songs he’d been writing following his former band’s dissolution. Yellowbirds debut album, The Color, was released by The Royal Potato Family in 2011 and received favorable reviews, with Pitchfork noting that the record espoused “an endearing raggedness, as though Cohen invited you into his living room.” Vanished Frontier hinges on the same intimacy. The album glows with spectral harmonies and interwoven textures, decorative percussion and brilliant guitar playing; but, these are songs that could stand on their own, stripped of all that. In the end, the noise supports the signal.