Ever since abandoning the punk of their previous band, Nation of Ulysses, the members of Washington, D.C.‘s Make Up have preached a style they call “Gospel Yeh-Yeh.” After two live albums and a stellar studio full-length, Sound Verite, they seemed to peak with 1998’s In Mass Mind, a stunning combination of soul and funk that referenced seemingly every ‘60s R&B act yet sounded like none of those bands at the same time. On it, vocalist Ian Svenonius shouted “I was born in a swamp,” and the same could be said for the album. It was dirty, murky and raw, rising from darker depths than anything you’ve ever heard. So what could a soulful, psychedelic gospel band do for an encore?
Record the sexiest album of the year, that’s what.
If Midnite Vultures is Beck’s stab at Prince, then Save Yourself is the Make Up doing a rewrite of the early Rolling Stones songbook that’s positively orgasmic. From shouts of “Sock it to me, baby…c’mon, let’s spawn!,” to screeches of “I was nothing, baby, and my blood was cold till you put your mouth in me,” Svenonius’ lyrics drip of sweat, and while they might read funny in a record review, they’re powerful, chilling and sleazy all at the same time when heard on the album. Even a nearly eight-minute cover of “Hey Joe” reeks of sex. Save Yourself is the best party you’ve ever attended, the best kiss you’ve ever had, and one of the hottest albums you’ll ever hear.
That trademark Gospel Yeh-Yeh is still there, like on “The Prophet” (“He said that I would see and I saw, he said that I would hear and I heard, he said that I would follow and I followed every word”), but it’s backed by spine-tingling organ work by James Canty, and slinky bass lines from Michelle Mae that’ll make you squeal. Jazzy horns fill up “C’mon, Let’s Spawn,” and “I Am Pentagon” twinkles like the starry eyes of the person you crave. Save Yourself might be gospel, but it’s about as sinful as anything can get. It leaves you breathless and uneasy, and when Svenonius croons “Oh baby, if you’ve got feelings then give me some,” you hope some of those feelings get passed on to you, because after Save Yourself you’ve got nothing left.
Save Yourself is funk, it’s soul, it’s gospel, and it’s all wrapped and sealed with the most decadent, sleazy kiss you’ve ever received. Get it, turn it on and get turned on, and find out just how hot Gospel Yeh-Yeh can get.