Album Review: Yeasayer – Odd Blood

by Gordon Elgart on December 22, 2009

The immediate reaction to the opener on Yeasayer’s upcoming release Odd Blood, “The Children,” is that it sounds like the band decided to play a joke on downloaders by starting with a song designed to make the listener feel as uncomfortable as possible. It’s a weird cacophony of bells and creepy vocal processing, all played at a lumbering pace, seemingly built to frighten. What the heck happened to Yeasayer?

Next up is “Ambling Alp,” the single that’s been making the rounds for some time now. This sounds like the Yeasayer of All Hours Cymbals with urgent vocals, complex rhythms, and a driving positivity. There’s a difference in the sound, though. Their first album put the percussion in the back of the mix, with lots of reverb to make it sound like the drums were far, far away. This album moves the percussion to the front of the mix. While most of it sounds like electronic percussion, its prominence in the mix lets you know right away that this album is really proud of the way it uses rhythm.

There’s songs that are definitely meant for the dance floor on this album. If you’re not up and moving by the end of “ONE,” “Rome,” or “Mondegreen,” I don’t think we can be friends. “Love Me Girl” starts with synths that sound like an electo-disco call to the dance floor, but there’s enough stops and starts to remind you that Yeasayer is not, in fact, a disco band. There will be remixes of the songs on this album, and you may read about them on music blogs, and there might even be one of those useless all-remix re-releases of Odd Blood, but I don’t think anyone is going to be able to improve on the perfect synth line of “ONE” or “Love Me Girl,” or better the persistent driving beats of “Rome” and “Mondegreen.” It’s a different feel for Yeasayer, and it works for me.

Then there’s the prettier moments on the album. “I Remember” reminds me of some of the ’70s solo work of Jon Anderson, both with and without Vangelis. “Strange Reunions” fits its title perfectly, as it’s a strange song, but one that seems like an evolutionary “Tomorrow Never Knows.” The album closes with the soaring “Grizelda,” which features layers of falsetto vocals over ambient electronics and non-ambent hand clapping.

This brings me back to the beginning, and that song that I thought was a joke. I still don’t totally know what to make of it because it sounds nothing like the rest of the record, but it does set a mood of foreboding that is then removed by the rest of the record’s feeling of joy. It’s nice to find out that nothing has happened to Yeasayer, apart from making another great album.

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Odd Blood will be released on Secretly Canadian on Febuary 9, 2010.

Gordon Elgart

A music nerd who probably uses that term too much. I have a deep love for bombastic, quirky and dynamic music.

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

DRIZZLE December 22, 2009 at 11:11 pm

this album is banging on my stereo
TOP HITZ I Rememer ONE and Rome

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