The Canadian band Yes We Mystic has a big sound, and it's one that defies easy description. At times on the group's new record, Ten Seated Figures, out on Friday via DevilDuck Records, the tunes straddle something approaching art rock, even as at others the music veers towards something far more mainstream. This is bold stuff, and if the group sometimes over-reaches, their ambition alone makes this a masterpiece. Where else are you going to hear choral bursts brush up against flashes of New Wave, alongside instrumental flourishes worthy of an early King Crimson record?
If "Young Evil" suggests some odd mix of Kraftwerk with The Virgin Prunes, the lovely "Italics" leans into the sort of thing that fuels MGMT. Elsewhere, the lush "Please Bring Me To Safety" is elegant, nearly-mainstream synth-pop, even as the complex "Panthalassa" reveals layers upon layers of sounds piled up until the overall effect is nearly ravishing. "Felsenmeer" is chamber pop perfection, while the rippling "Last Known Sighting" finds the group offering up the sort of keyboard figure that reminds one of Philip Glass compositions. The players here in Yes We Mystic -- Adam Fuhr (guitar, vocals), Keegan Steele (synthesizer, mandolin, vocals), Jodi Plenert (keyboards, cello, vocals), Jensen Fridfinnson (violin, synthesizer, guitar), and Jordon Ottenson (drums, electronic drums) -- approach these compositions with a near-classical seriousness even as the songs remains vibrant and light. With perhaps the exception of Dead Can Dance, it's rare to find a group who can tackle material like this with a real easy touch. That's a complicated way of saying that this might seem pretentious on paper, but it's wildly listenable when actually heard.
Ten Seated Figures is out on Friday via DevilDuck Records.
[Photo: Uncredited pic from band's Facebook page]