1. Yellow Theme
2. Take My Bones Away
3. March To The Sea
4. Little Things
7. Back Where I Belong
8. Sea Lungs
1. Green Theme
2. Board Up The House
3. Mtns. (The Crown & Anchor)
6. Psalms Alive
8. The Line Between
9. If I Forget Thee, Lowcountry
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All hail the run-on sentence and Baroness: not the dame from G.I. Joe: Rise of Cobra, but the presumptive claimants to year-end top-tens of the last half-decade-plus, the clean-cut brother from Savannah’s gnarled beard scene (all things relative—the cover art does feature what are probably nails but I prefer to think of them as golf tees jammed into someone’s head, and a topless woman preparing to slit a swan’s throat—par for the John Dyer Baizley course, I suppose).
Here’s the thing, though. As much as it is tempting to point to the parts of this double album where Baroness have continued to smooth out their edges, there are enough counterpoints that we won’t be decrying Yellow & Green as the kind of “rawk” horse-shit that inexplicably has a substantial following or the inoffensive garbage trying to out-vanilla itself (see: Fun.). “Take My Bones Away,” for example, introduces us to the most anthemic Baroness has ever been, but still maintains its deep fuzz and enough bite that metal elitists won’t be aghast and/or shaking their heads in disbelief. For further proof check out the fierce groove that closes out “Little Things” or the sinister prog that segues into the drowned “Sea Lungs.”
As I said, Baroness has always been the most refined of their Savannah brethren, though they have made a tidy niche for themselves toeing the line between fried-rat-eating Black Tusk and cosmic-tripping-latter-day Mastodon. Yellow & Green, while quite clearly the catchiest and most arena-ready of the Baroness oeuvre, as well as the most ambitious, obviously, has more of what some might dub middle-grounding, but in reality continues to stand on its own, much like the ’Ness’s other Southern Creations. That this record just ups the ante is not surprising. It takes what made Baroness so appealing and expanded it over a much wider arc. Like, two albums’ worth.
Inherent in that ambition is the drive that propels certain individuals to greatness, and while some have become preening assholes, there is a warmth to Yellow & Green that immediately envelopes the listener; where the incredible sweep of the record and its increasingly challenging composition should daunt, it thrills; where the aspirations of Baizley should go Corgan, we get paeans to the low-country and gruffly-sung melodies that simply soar; where at its most disturbed the record should become bogged-down, we get “Board Up the House”; and where Baroness should be tempted to chase the fickle critics around, they just stay true to their own aesthetic (and have been getting near-universal acclaim anyway).
So while some might be tempted to dismiss Baroness for perceived compromise or fault them for not dramatically breaking with their past here, they’ve nevertheless forged ahead to create what is sure to garner substantial year-end praise, and for damn good reason. Compromise this is not, people.