Odd Blood (Secretly Canadian, 02.2010)
For: Prince, MGMT, MPP-Animal Collective
Byline: Hey! Pitchshifting! Now we can sound like the Knife! Heirs to the world music throne of Toto or just obsessed with neat sounds?
I’m not going to lie 2010 has gotten off to a great start, even better than 2009 (gasp), that’s why the sting of disappointment hurt even worse upon the first listen to Odd Blood, Yeasayer’s follow up to their critically acclaimed 2007 All Hour Cymbals. It isn’t very hard to point out what I don’t like about this album; its forced experimentation over formulaic indie rock songs, its overly produced (does that mean anything anymore?) pop sheen, that ubiquitous poly-rythmic, tribal beat thing everybody is aping from Animal Collective. This trans-continental stylistic sampling is treading some ground I swore I thought would never be re-hashed. World music. I mean, is Yeasayer going to be the next Toto? Time will tell. It would seem that Odd Blood is relatively easy to write this off, but still, there are a few things that Yeasayer do very right that demand further listening with an itchy trigger finger on the skip button. See: “Rome”, “Strange Reunions”, “Love Me Girl”, “Mondegreen”. First, and probably the most obvious, is the album’s gate-crashing single and hands-down strongest song, “Ambling Alp”. Starting with a percussion-scape straight out of MPP and a sludgy, syrupy synth line ranks among the few on the album that isn’t a Duran-Duran B-side rip off. “Ambling Alp” is a great song, in company with a couple other great songs on the impressive first four songs on the album. I really can’t get past that incredible “In The Air Tonight” drum break-down on “Madder Red”, the intensity of the percussion is matched by Chris Keating’s (love it or hate it, that dude has a voice) powerful vocals. We don’t get ballads like “I Remember” anymore, a lot of critics say this sounds a lot like Tears For Fears, I say so what, Tears For Fears is awesome. The entire 80’s vibe of this album is a polarizing point, but looking past this obvious throwback is even more troubling. Prince. Chris Keating has his impersonation nailed, even down to his whiny falsetto and wild vocal gesticulations. The driving, funky beat on some of the more brash songs are straight out of Dirty Minds playbook. So, for better or worse Yeasayer is back a little bit more poppy, a little bit tighter, a little bit more 80’s nostalgic, a lot more cocky, and a little bit underwhelming.
I can say they have a pretty awesome live show and crazy awesome music videos (note: moms, teens, this is the clean version)