By Gruesome Greg
The PR agency set the tone for this one by saying “At no risk of hyperbole Baroness’ Yellow & Green is on a very short list as one of the new millennium’s best rock records.” Uh yeah, that looks like hyperbole to me. Then again, it also indicates that they’ve moved away from metal and more towards radio-friendly rock. Seems to me that approach didn’t work so well for Mastodon—from a metalhead’s perspective, that is. (I think The Hunter sold a few copies, but I digress.)
Alas, this double LP is no London Calling—which, to be fair, was released in the old millennium. It would also be impossible to call this sludge, probably the most commonly-applied tag to their earlier work (with a “progressive” thrown in for good measure). The heaviest we get here is some upbeat, distorted, radio-friendly post-grunge in the form of tunes like leadoff single “Take My Bones Away,” “March to the Sea” and “Sea Lungs.” “Little Things,” while slightly mellower, with a chorus that recalls Alice in Chains, is nevertheless driven by a disco-like drum beat. Mondo Bizzaro, man!
These records aren’t all about the rock, though, as we get some softer stuff like “Twinkler” and “Back Where I Belong” that rock about as hard as the Eagles—though the latter has a pretty decent “Hotel California”-style solo. Contrary to the press release, I can’t picture either of these tunes being “radio rock anthems.”
The hopes of the Green album being the heavy counterpoint to the mellow Yellow record are briefly stoked by the heavily-amplified country-rock instrumental “Green Theme” that kicks things off. However, the next number, “Board Up the House” is about as heavy as Everclear. And that’s about as heavy as she gets, unfortunately. Tunes like “Psalms Alive” and “The Line Between” could go along with some of the mellower moments on the Blue Record, but they’re missing the louder dynamic that made said album an interesting, appealing listen.
On that note, it’s kinda hard for me to assign a number grade here. I can appreciate the musicianship and experimentation, but this doesn’t appeal to my personal palette in the slightest. Considering that I’m writing for a metal site, I can definitely say that I wouldn’t recommend this record to a metal audience, either. This stuff is pretty lightweight, even by “progressik” stve rocandards, and the aforementioned “radio rock anthems” are few and far between. I know that Baroness fanboys will hate me for this, but I think Yellow and Green is a failed concept and a disappointing listen—more Sandinista than London Calling, if you will. You’ll hafta hear it for yourself if you don’t believe me—but if you thought Mastodon went soft on The Hunter, well, that’s nothing compared to this.