On his second album Yoav Sadan continues to reinvent guitar playing, with the technique he's devised for himself having, quite accidentally, come upon it pounding out rhythms for passersby in a park one day. Hitting, pulling, plucking, thumping, teasing, and only occasionally strumming or picking like a conventional player would, he uses his guitar as a rudimentary sound generator, rather than a traditional performance instrument.
Feeding the resulting sounds through the various electronic gadgets that make up his homespun sound-processing assembly, known as "The Beast", allows Yoav to perform practically every "instrument" heard on these recordings, and creates a vast, cavernous space for his songs to inhabit. His sound remains familiar, yet the style has matured, the system gained more complexity, and not every sound is teased exclusively from his battered guitar.
More importantly, Yoav's writing seems more focused, resulting in a more concise album than his somewhat sprawling 2008 debut Charmed & Strange. Whether this is the result of the inclusion of real additional instruments and musicians, or simply a lusher production, A Foolproof Escape Plan is a more cohesive album than its predecessor — easier to grasp particularly to listeners accustomed to the two conventional parts of a vinyl LP.
From the plucky blues of opener Greed, to the spooky Moonbike, or the wistful Country poignancy of Spidersong, and the Latin-inflected closer We All Are Dancing, a more dynamic soundscape expands, in which the additional "real" instruments and musicians detract little from the processed guitar noises. Yoav's palette has grown, the variety of sounds used increased, but the basic premise still hinges on his excellent voice accompanied by strong, memorable melodies arranged in a minimal fashion.
Musically, Yoav's machine-dependent plantar electro folk is quite similar to the ostinatos common in synth pop, his voice acting as counterpoint to the artificial motifs in many cases reminiscent of the long melody lines employed by bands like Depeche Mode. And though this seemingly folksy barefoot poet adds a heaping helping of contemporary R&B and Hip Hop, his unconventional approach is precisely what makes him one of the most innovative electronic pop musicians currently around.
Lyrically, the album's songs seek a means of leaving a world of uniform conformity, in which the highest ambition on offer is to be the most proficient consumer and nothing less. This is most clearly articulated in Greed, the ode to Western pop culture's happy-go-lucky emblem that is Yellowbrite Smile, and Safety in Numbers — the last in a way finishing the thought begun on Yoav's 2007 "breakthrough hit" Club Thing, though addressing a much broader context.
Yoav turns his most sentimental in 6/8 Dream and, particularly, Easy Chair, a dreamy rumination on the passing of time and the very Cape Town chair in which he began honing his guitar skills during his early teens. Which perhaps makes this an album of songs about discovering oneself and the world one has come to inhabit, more than an actual device for escape. Viewed as such, A Foolproof Escape Plan does indeed appear flawless.