Yeasayer – Odd Blood


The build-up to Yeasayer’s second record has been fairly impressive. Back in February they contributed one of the highlights of the Dark Was The Night compilation, the spirited “Tightrope”. They played a few major gigs over the summer, impressing particularly at Bonnaroo. And then, just a couple of months ago, they dropped “Ambling Alp” on us, as the alpha male of the album. Joyous, infectious, and perfectly combining euphoric pop hooks with Yeasayer’s usual ethereal texture, the anticipation for this record had suddenly gone through the roof.

The worries I had before listening to the full album was that their debut, “All Hour Cymbals”, was simply far too inconsistent (or even worse, too consistently mediocre) for “Odd Blood” to warrant the attention it was receiving. Were Yeasayer simply doing the same with “Ambling Alp” as they had with “2080”? To create properly complete and enjoyable album, Yeasayer would have to concentrate as much on the weaker tracks as on their big-hitters.

That’s not exactly what they’ve done, listening to the album you can hear exactly which songs the band feel are the strong ones and the weak ones. However, there are a number of notable improvements. Yeasayer employ more variety over the course of the album, and the unpredictability is welcome. A pulsating dance track such as “ONE” is as likely to appear next as a more traditional Yeasayer song, ie one that borrows from their usual well of funky neo-psychedelia, see “Madder Red”.

A certain inspiration has been drawn, in places, from the new fleet of “experimental pop” bands, Animal Collective and !!! particularly. Yeasayer are happy to put the vocals at the forefront, though, Chris Keating switching finely between disco-falsetto and deep, dark call to arms. This is showcased impressively on “Rome”, a song that likes to imply it is a simple dance track, but forks off into jittery keyboard solos and sudden stabs of high-pitched wailing. The pulse beats and the fingers click but as Keating cries “Rome is gonna be mine” the feeling is that this is more of a threatening song.

One disadvantage of this influence, however, is when Yeasayer try to replicate the sound they aspire to as opposed to simply using it as one ingredient. They are well-equipped at making decent songs with one or two stand outs on an album, so I don’t really think they need to do any copy-catting. The disappointing, almost cringe-worthy pop of “Love Me Girl” and the emptily robotic opener “The Children” could have done with being left out, the band are clearly capable of sleeker, more infectious fare.

I have to drop a bit of praise to the bass on this album, on certain tracks, “Ambling Alp” particularly, it carries a flair and rhythm-enhancing satisfaction that is uncommon around a lot of bands, particularly ones in this genre. I’ve always enjoyed Yeasayer’s basslines, both on All Hour Cymbals and the variations that are performed live, so it’s good to hear a few more treats added to their collections on this record.

The quality is higher than the previous album, the record as a whole carries more variety, and although there are weak points, mainly involving lazy attempts to re-create other sounds, there is still a lot to enjoy.

13/20

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About Alex Pavitt
I work in the field of emotion. My tools are instinctual feelings and my laptop is the medium between my brain and the outside world. I deconstruct and rebuild. I imagine. I steal other people's lyrics because somtimes, my own words aren't enough. I spend all of my time somewhere inside my head. I worship Douglas Adams, and in the back of my mind I am always painfully aware that I will never be as good as him or, for that matter, anybody else.

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