Tuesday, February 9, 2010
Album: Odd Blood
Record Label: Secretly Canadian
Release Date: 2/9/2010
Hype has been the name of the game for indie bands in recent memory, and Yeasayer has been no exception to this rule. Between bands like Vampire Weekend and MGMT, smaller acts have seen an influx in popularity received from the likes of blogging, social networking, and other newer technologies used to expose new music. Yeasayer’s rise to indie-rock notability went hand in hand with the growth of music blogging during the latter part of the past decade.
Their 2007 debut release All Hour Cymbals justified the surrounding buzz with its unique fusion which the band dubs "Middle Eastern-psych-snap-gospel." A little less than three years later, Yeasayer returns with their follow up Odd Blood (2010)—an album that finds them slowly moving away from their signature style that was marked by lush ambiance and original experimentation.
The transition from All Hour Cymbals to Odd Blood similarly recalls the evolution that fellow Brooklynites TV on the Radio made between their last two albums Return to Cookie Mountain and Dear Science. Yeasayer’s sophomore release finds the band trading in some of its audacious influences and experimentation blend for a slightly more polished, catchy and accessible sound. Like TV on the Radio’s transition, Odd Blood strikes gold by reaching a middle ground that not only appeases avid fans hoping for more of the same, but also openly welcomes those previously unfamiliar with the group’s work.
As the dark and mysterious opening track “The Children” slowly meanders in dissonant fashion, it appears out of place—particularly given that the song provides a first impression bearing little resemblance to the rest of Odd Blood. The obvious standout, “Ambling Alp,” follows immediately after “The Children,” and quells any fears about the band diving off the deep end into a pool of left-field electronic experimentation. “Ambling Alp” exudes positive vibes in every imaginable aspect, including the song’s upbeat harmonies, determined lyrical optimism, or polyrhythmic beats. “Ambling Alp” surpasses any individual track in the band’s small catalogue to date, and easily stands as an early frontrunner among indie-rock’s best tracks of 2010.
While “Ambling Alp” is clearly the defining moment on Odd Blood, the remainder of the album should not be overlooked, as it respectably demonstrates Yeasayer’s synth-heavy, hook-driven electronic pop in an impressive manner. Between the soaring vocal riffs on “Madder Red,” the Hot Chip-influenced “Love Me Girl” and the lively dance-beat of “O.N.E.,” Yeasayer continuously hone in on their songwriting skills. In fact, all nine tracks on Odd Blood (excluding “The Children”) have their exciting moments, and combine together to make the album worth repeated listens.
Upon first glance, Odd Blood appears to be a departure away from the style within All Hour Cymbals. After spending time with the album, however, Odd Blood prevails as an expansion of their sound that exhibits their understanding of their musical cohesiveness. In making this step, Yeasayer no longer attempt to force a myriad number of influences into a square hole. Rather, Odd Blood carefully places their influences in the right places. And in the case of Yeasayer, that one nuisance has made all the difference.