Yeah You, and I, the first solo album by Arcade Fire multi-instrumentalist Tim Kingsbury, is a densely layered indie pop gem that rivals Kingsbury’s main band in its artistry. Under the stage name Sam Patch, Kingsbury began writing and recording the material shortly after ending Arcade Fire’s Reflektor tour, so it’s not surprising that it inherits that album’s dance-rock sensibilities.
Yeah You, and I is practically a solo album in the literal sense, with Kingsbury writing and producing each song himself while playing most of the instruments. It has the eclecticism that you would expect from an artist who plays so many different roles within the context of Arcade Fire.
Album opener “Oversight” is an infectious earwig of a song, in large part due to a highly danceable disco groove and theatrical organ flourishes. Kingsbury sings of a life in transition, fleeing an old life while ready to start a new one. “I never meant to bury it, but I was set in my ways,” he sings.
“Listening” is the album’s catchiest track, thriving with a propulsive, jerky synth riff and repetitive song structure that plays like a 4-minute pop zenith. The repetitive outbursts in the song’s chorus – “I’m listening” at one point and “what did you say” at another – make the song sound antagonistic and impatient toward the woman to whom Kingsbury sings. “I thought you were a cure, but I should’ve known how to look the other way,” Kingsbury sings. “What you say won’t make it go away.”
Though synthesizers, reverb, and dance beats are staples of Yeah You, and I, the album is varied in its dynamic and tonal ranges. Though songs like “Listening” have pop energy cranked up to ten, tracks like the mid-tempo acoustic strummer “Waiting to Wait” dial it back. Despite Kingsbury’s lyrics of romantic tension, the warm synthesizers and soothing rhythm make the song sonically relaxing.
The dichotomy of the slow, plodding electronic beat and the frenetic shimmering guitars on “St. Sebastian” gives the song a bit of an edge, as do dynamic shifts where all other instruments drop out of the mix, drowned out by swelling organ. Kingsbury sings of confusion and a search for meaning. “What you’ll find waiting by your side is an arrow, it’s a sign, and it’s pointed in a straight line,” Kingsbury sings of the search for direction. He later contrasts that by warning against following the wrong direction. “Listen to my words but they’re all the wrong kind,” he sings.
Usually a backing singer, Kingsbury’s vocals fall a bit short in range and resonance, but are good enough to serve the well-crafted songs. Though Yeah You, And I lacks much of the anthemic bombast of his work with Arcade Fire, Kingsbury’s textured compositions create a richly subtle pop palette that is equally as satisfying.