Yourself and the Air – Who’s Who in the Zoo

written by: September 16, 2011
Release Date: May 24, 2011


Yourself and the Air has created a small trip down memory lane for fans of the early blend of post-rock infused indie/emo music. However many times you might think you’ve heard these songs before from others from that era, you can’t just dismiss Yourself and the Air. Although you could argue their songs are not groundbreaking, that doesn’t mean they won’t pack a punch. Who’s Who in the Zoo doesn’t seem to reek of trying to impress anyone. The album is true to itself.

Any decent audiophile will be able to instantly tell that this album wasn’t recorded in a studio with soundfoam and the most expensive equipment. That’s because it was recorded in the band’s own home while they played the same guitars and drums they first picked up as children. There are parts of the EP that sound a bit unpolished, but you could also look at it as just being “worn in,” homemade, or one-of-a-kind.

There are minimal studio effects used, and one can tell Yourself and the Air was playing around with the tools they had at their disposal to take listeners out of the song for a moment. This honest, personal relationship with the recording process shows on the album.

The rawness and gritty truth of these songs is what makes them strong. The singer’s high-pitched, slightly whined, slightly screamed, but fully realized vocals will remind you of Clap Your Hands Say Yeah!’s better days.

Songs such as “Bicycles Plus” capture the bittersweet nostalgic emotion that goes hand in hand with the 1990s emo sound and is also able to take a picture of the band’s passion and fire behind their instruments. It sounds like a few friends from Chicago who have been writing songs about growing up while they were growing up.

This honesty in their music is where Yourself and the Air gets their charm. Songs such as “Colors Alive” would sound a bit childish with some of its lyrics. “We all like to compare ourselves to colors alive/I like to think that I’m blue and not just white,” doesn’t sound very poetic, but the bouncing and bubbly way the band carries through the song makes you think about what color you might be.

The honesty also makes a person question things while listening to Who’s Who in the Zoo. The instrumentals that occupy most of the album’s time are definitely thinking music. It’s the kind of stuff to listen to through headphones while alone in the bedroom late at night, just letting the mind unravel. That might sound a little melodramatic, but Yourself and the Air are true to themselves, and that goes a long way with young musicians these days.

This point is evident in their lyrics as well. The repeated lyric of, “Here comes the ice age,” in the song “Ice Age” gives the ominous feeling of the long winter that Chicagoans feel every year. Whether a businessman or a bum on the street, you can relate to this song if you’re from Chicago, or anywhere with bad winters for that matter.

On songs such as “Bon Voyage,” you actually can feel like you’re in the van with the band leaving home to go on tour, not knowing whether you’ll be able to make enough money to get back. You’re brought into a moment or a memory, real or imagined.

Even though they’re a small band, Yourself and the Air’s album feels as though Sigur Rós had some little indie cousins who lived in Chicago and wrote songs about their bleak, freezing, terrible weather surroundings.

Yourself and the Air – Who’s Who in the Zoo Tracklist:

  1. “Trampolines”
  2. “Sick Days”
  3. “Bon Voyage”
  4. “Bicycles Plus”
  5. “Colors Alive”
  6. “Ice Age”
  7. “The Oracle”