A brief chemistry lesson from NY art-rockers

It must be hard to be a girlfriend of a chemist. One morning he tells you that you smell like carvin and you spend the rest of the day wondering if it was a compliment or not. Now imagine, what if he would write you a love song using names of the chemicals as the metaphors for his feelings. Chances are: you won’t get it.

Although it’s unclear whether some of Yeasayer’s members indeed studied chemistry or just occasionally stumbled upon an open book with the descriptions of chemical substances in his local library, he did write a love song using names of the chemicals as the metaphors for his feelings. And predictably, no-one understood what it meant.

Yeasayer – I Am Chemistry from Mute on Vimeo.

Their first single from the new album opens with the line „I’m digoxin from the foxglove plant“. Foxglove is a beautifully colored but highly poisonous flower that contains a substance called digoxin, which has been used in medicine to treat heart failure. This scientifically-driven line is followed by the phrase „I’m an ACN and I’m DDT“. It is most likely the reference to acetonitrile, a chemical that in large amounts is capable of breaking down to form hydrogen cyanide within the body; and cyanide is thought to be one of the components of the origins of life.

Moving down the lyrics, there is one probably the nerdiest line you can imagine: „A C4H10FO2P puts you on your knees“. The mentioned abbreviation stands for formula that describes sarin – a chemical, which is considered a weapon of mass destruction in international law.

If you’re still not falling for the smart guy who wrote the song, here’s another trick: „She doesn’t need my help poisoning the well beneath the rue leaves“. As one description at Genius.com reads, oil extracted from rue trees has been known to cause blisters on the skin when combined with sun exposure. Rue is associated with regret and mourning in many of Shakespeare’s plays. Literature, huh!

„I Am Chemistry“ is undoubtedly an outstanding song that has raised the bar for the album. The record is called „Amen & Goodbye“ and it’s out April 1st on Mute Records. If I won’t need to find out the meaning of each line in their other new tracks, I’ll be dissapointed.

Nastya Kazakova