Yeasayer Album Review: Odd Blood

by Jack Diablo
If you haven’t heard of Yeasayer already, you soon will. The Brooklyn-based experimental pop band releases their second album, Odd Blood this month and if the buzz off of their first single is any indication, Yeasayer is set to start this year off strong.
The album begins exactly as I wanted it to, dark and disjointed. A deep bass drop sets the funeral march tempo accompanied by broken sounds and a dirge-like melody. Ween-esque vocals enter, reminding us that the vocoder doesn’t have to be a cheesy effect and can indeed be used appropriately to good end. The hook in the chorus is simply unstoppable, forcing you to sing along to the “da da da da da da” with eyes closed and fists clenched. The darkness of ‘The Children’ slowly fades out as the synthesizers become cleaner and the familiar intro to ‘Ambling Alp’ builds in the background.
‘Ambling Alp’ is that song. If you go to the places that spin the latest indie and dance jams, you’ve no doubt heard it and quite possibly love it. It’s super-poppy but in that way that forces even the toughest of dudes to admit how good it gets you. The song is quite inspirational, a real feel-good song that immediately boosts spirits and causes revelry. Grammatically correct or not, the chorus is a real sing-along – “Stick up for yourself, son. Never mind what anybody else done.” What’s even better is that the visually stunning music video for the single was made by Jacksonville native Kirby McClure, aka Radical Friend.
Men With Hats came to mind on the next track, ‘Madder Red.’ There is a distinctly eighties sound to the track (also not unlike Duran Duran) and I could easily picture the song alongside the ‘Safety Dance’ video. The album seems to become increasingly more poppy towards the middle which I found a little disappointing for an “experimental” band. ‘O.N.E.’ is the pop climax but one of the weakest tracks in terms of originality. Nevertheless, it remains dance floor ready and listenable. But it also ushers in a house music element to the record that doesn’t really do it for me. Thankfully, the weirdness does return towards the end of the album along with the familiar eighties R&B feel of Mondegreen and it’s simple, catchy lyrics such as “Everybody’s talking about me and my baby. Making love ‘til the the morning light.”
Perhaps I’m being too critical as I sit at my computer writing about music because although it starts out as something you can zone out to, it really is more of an album to be heard and experienced in social settings. And in that way, Odd Blood is definitely a winner.