Yes had fallen out of critical favor with Tales from Topographic Oceans, a two-record set of four songs that reviewers found indulgent. But they had not fallen out of the Top Ten, and so they had little incentive to curb their musical ambitiousness. Relayer, released 11 months after Tales, was a single-disc, three-song album, its music organized into suites that alternated abrasive, rhythmically dense instrumental sections featuring solos for the various instruments with delicate vocal and choral sections featuring poetic lyrics devoted to spiritual imagery. Such compositions seemed intended to provide an interesting musical landscape over which the listener might travel, and enough Yes fans did that to make Relayer a Top Ten, gold-selling hit, though critics continued to complain about the lack of concise, coherent song structures.
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AllMusic Review by William Ruhlmann