Yeasayer have made a sufficient pop album in the same way that Pizza Hut makes a sufficient meal. Each ingredient is identifiable as long as you don’t focus on it - there’s melodies, structure, and hooks. But the closer you squint at each piece of the recipe, the more saccharine and processed you realize those parts are.

There’s a lack of substance from the get go on the bands fifth album Erotic Reruns. ‘People I Loved’ is a one-size-fits-all intro, injecting pop tropes with a centimeter-wide needle. Just 18 seconds pass before a singalong chorus interrupts the funk: “why was I so hard on the people I loved?” A fair question for creatives and left-brainers alike, but it’s also a question that requires context to have meaning. Motivation and depth are further squashed by a “nah nah nah” bridge that cuts the track into bite-size pieces. Less than three minutes go by before a hard stop, which is a relief as much as it is a hindrance to the songs staying power. How do you ask is co-frontman Chris Keating hard on the people he loved? Don’t look here for any answers.

The instrumentals turn more inspiring in the back half with the fat bass groove of ‘Ohm Death,’ the electropop sheen of ‘Fluttering in the Floodlights’, and the album’s best song, ‘Let Me Listen In On You’, which consistently takes interesting turns in the face of Erotic Rerun’s rigid verse-chorus forms. As the title suggests, the album is largely about reigniting a romance. ‘Listen’ is by far the most honest: “We don’t make love like we used to/ we don’t read by candlelight.” A stacked bridge follows orgasmically, and you remember a time where this band were so exciting you could barely contain yourself.

Yeasayer, for all their early career hype, never had that one perfect record. Debut All Hour Cymbals was immensely promising with its group vocals (‘2080’) and chaotic shifts of psychedelic brilliance (‘No Need to Worry’). The following Odd Blood proved that the band could pen some damn fine pop tunes as well, still hinting at a potential that was ready to burst. The records since then get more disappointing at a staggering pace. Even though there are several ingredients that work well together, Yeasayer are afraid to take chances in ways that once worked so well for them. Looking at the track times for this record is proof enough that they’ve opted to settle. Nothing passes the 4-minute mark, and there’s only 9 tracks. You’d think the band were ashamed of themselves.

Not to say there’s anything wrong with writing a concise album. The problem is that Yeasayer are in the middle of an identity crisis. They want to share a psychedelic experience but seldom write anything someone older than fourteen would find strange. They also want to compose hooks, but proved themselves long ago as being more adept at a spiritual singsong approach. As a result, these songs don’t live nicely in any genre, and suffer under the weight of attempting cross-pollination no matter how much they ape Prince on single ‘Ecstatic Baby’. This track is an absolute goof - too short to prove that Keating had something important to say but too out of step with the rest of the albums narrative to blend in.