Closer to Blue than a Patrick Cowley compilation, Yes includes more well-observed love songs than perhaps even Chris Lowe can stand. The key track is "Building a Wall," in which Tennant mumbles something about "precocious barbarians" and "Caesar conquering Gaul" but whose chorus tells the real story: He's building a wall not to keep others out, but to keep himself in. Yes is haunted by remembrance of White Parties past, of looking for kicks Tennant didn't really want to find because he was busy worrying about sin and attitutidizing. Madonna's kind of Catholicism isn't for him: Surrender and rue have been Tennant's come-ons for years. But precocious barbarians prefer spritz and Lowe's collection of cool sunglasses. Hence the desiccated throb of "Beautiful People," which is what growing old with your trousers rolled sounds like.
Lowe's hookcraft, as supple as ever, has got the mortar, and Tennant the bricks, but they won't make lots of money this time, despite the production and songwriting assist by Xenomania. While it may reassure smug twinks like us to know that smart middle-aged men won't make fools of themselves chasing young chippies on the dance floor, it wasn't so long ago that Tennant was prepared to take the risk—to maybe put down the book and start falling in love. Let's be grateful, then, that surrender and rue still nourish the Boys' good songs: "Did You See Me Coming?" is the sunshine-on-a-cloudy-day sequel to "I Wouldn't Normally Do This Kind of Thing"; the arpegiatted vibrations of "Love, Etc" convince us that Tennant's acquainted with the damage wrought by beautiful people; and "The Way It Used To Be" bores the melody into the ground until the song explodes in the last third, convincing us that Tennant still has it in him to go slightly mad. For the most part, though, Yes says no too often.