Review - Yeasayer: Odd Blood
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3/5The sophomore album from Brooklyn's Yeasayer marks a significant change in musical direction.
Whereas their stunning debut All Hour Cymbals was an eccentric blend of folk-tinged psychedelia and intelligent pop song-writing, Odd Blood lacks some of the experimental edge that made Yeasayer such a deservedly acclaimed band.
Acoustic instrumentation is almost completely absent on this release, instead the trio have opted for a more synth-driven sound.
Several tracks on the album ('O.N.E', 'Rome') are likely to be emanating from the speakers at alternative/indie club nights in the coming months. On such songs heavy, danceable rhythms are fused with some great hooks and choruses that exhibit Yeasayer's synth-pop sensibilities.
At its best this album contains evidence to justify the hype surrounding it. The menacing vocoder and sparse, repetitive arrangement on the brooding opener 'Children' sets a dark and eerie tone that is wonderfully offset by the campy, upbeat 'Ambling Alp'. This, the album's lead single (accompanied by a trippy video) is Odd Blood's strongest and by far most memorable track. Lyrically it is an uplifting paean to individuality and features a catchy feelgood chorus: 'You must stick up for yourself, son/ never mind what anybody else done.'
However, this album lacks the consistency of its predecessor. If it weren't for a few tracks towards the end of the record ('Strange Reunions', 'Grizelda') and their trademark high register vocals this band would be almost unrecognisable from the one that released All Hour Cymbals. The seamless collaboration of organic acoustic sounds with futuristic electro pop that characterised their debut had a definite charm and originality.
Odd Blood at times sounds as if it could have been made by any of the other host of ultra-hip, ultra-bland synth pop bands around at the moment. Their sound has become far more synthetic and lacks the warmth that pervaded the previous record; certain tracks here leave no impression and are easily forgettable. However, there are some great moments on Odd Blood, and there is plenty of evidence that Yeasayer are still full of mad ideas. Definitely one to watch for 2010.
first published by Epigram