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Yeasayer - Odd Blood

  by Mark Rowland

published: 6 / 3 / 2010

Yeasayer - Odd Blood
Label: Mute Records
Format: CD


Fabulous combination of pop and experimentalism on second album from mushc acclaimed Brroklyn-based band, Yeasayer

Yeasayer’s 2007 debut album, 'All Hour Cymbals', was released to critical acclaim, with critics and bloggers quickly falling for the band’s mix of world music rhythms, folky guitars, sparse electronics and distant yet memorable vocal hooks. With 'Odd Blood', many of those elements are still present, but the folk guitars have been turned down and the electronics and vocals have been turned up. The result is something akin to the leftfield pop of the late 70s and early 80s, but also mining the same avant-pop vein as Animal Collective, Dirty Projectors and their ilk last year. Striking the balance between pure pop and experimentalism can be tricky to pull off, but for the most part, Yeasayer – vocalist/keyboardist Chris Keating, guitarist/keyboardist Anand Wilder and bassist Ira Wolf Tuton - have absolutely nailed it. The poppiest element of the music, other than the danceable rhythms, is Keating’s voice; it’s just strong and distinctive enough for pop, vaguely reminiscent of several 80s Brit pop stars, but with an American twang. It first stands out on the second track on 'Odd Blood', 'Ambling Alp', which was the source of much hype on the blogosphere after the band released it early. The song is musically similar to Animal Collective in its jaunty rhythm, weird one-off sounds and heavily treated instrumentation, but Keating’s voice and lyrics, about the boxer Joe Louis, ties it all into a fairly accessible pop song. ‘Madder Red’ has a sound that would fit quite nicely with 'All Hour Cymbals', were it not for the prominent, steady beat (vaguely reminiscent of early solo Peter Gabriel) and clear production, the vocals set much higher above the mix than anything on the band’s debut album. ‘O.N.E.’ and ‘Love Me Girl’ in the middle of the album are the most dance-influenced songs on the album, neither being a million miles away from Keating’s collaboration with Simian Mobile Disco, ‘Audacity of Huge’. The fairly conventional song structure and catchy chorus of 'O.N.E.'makes it an understandable choice for the second single off the album. ‘Love Me Girl’ has an extended intro that is pure European dance, before hitting the funkier verse, which is reminiscent of R&B-influenced American electropop. The bouncy new wave/electro of ‘Rome ‘ is another highlight, more oddball than the two songs preceding it, with great interplay between the lead and backing vocals. ‘Strange Reunions’ moves into more psychedelic territory, with a very 60s melody and woozy sound. ‘Mondegreen’ is another quirky one, after which the album glides to a close with ‘Grizelda’. The mix of strong pop and experimentalism will probably take some getting into for some listeners, particularly those of a more indie persuasion, but Odd Blood is worth persisting with; yet another album of interesting pop music that’s getting some much deserved recognition.

Track Listing:-
1 The Children
2 Ambling Alp
3 Madder Red
4 I Remember
5 O.N.E.
6 Love Me Girl
7 Rome
8 Strange Reunions
9 Mondegreen
10 Grizelda

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Interview (2010)
Yeasayer - Interview
Mark Rowland speaks to Ira Wolf Tuton, the bassist with New York-based art rock band Yeasayer, about his band's acclaimed second album 'Odd Blood' and how it has both translated and also developed on stage

live reviews

Rescue Rooms, Nottingham, 12/10/2009
Yeasayer - Rescue Rooms, Nottingham, 12/10/2009
Yeasayer have been among the few bands that I know I should listen to but… don’t. They emerged in 2007 with their critically praised album ‘All Hour Cymbals’, full of experimental sounds and eccentri
King's College, London, 20/8/2008
ICA, London, 6/3/2008



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