Yeasayer – Odd Blood

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Rating: ★★★½ ·

Finally the time has come for the release of the much anticipated follow up to All Hour Cymbals, and Yeasayer has switched it all up for you with the newest release, Odd Blood. Where they once dabbled in world music with a hint of electronic elements, they have turned the tables, choosing instead to go with electronic music that takes aim at taking over the world.  Your first listen might not offer too much, as this is a listen that requires several listens to completely unfold what lies beneath.

“The Children” opens up the album with some gothic samples that recalls old industrial music from the eighties, and the dark auto-tuned vocals keep the mood quite eerie, but there are some moments of lightness, which set the tone for the rest of the album.

We then come to the spectacular “Ambling Alp,” the band’s first single off Odd Blood. You wouldn’t be too far off if you didn’t notice some resemblance to Animal Collective, at least in the usage of samples, but the vocals don’t seem as intrusive as the latter band.  Really, this song is all over the place, which is perhaps why it’s so charming after repeated listens.

For the next three tracks you get transported immediately back to the eighties with Yeasayer. This isn’t an entirely bad thing, as the group doesn’t in their own particular way, incorporating more of their tribal meets world music instrumentation to the tunes. The opening moments of “Madder Red” as the vocals kick in just bring pure ecstatic joy, and “ONE” is just wonderful.  I love the way they play with the vocals, and then bounce right into the dance elements for the chorus.  All these songs benefit from the fact that there are extemporaneous elements all over the place, which makes the spin on such music more diverse than most of their modern-day equivalents.

When you come to the latter half of Odd Blood, you’ll find that the energy isn’t as fast paced as the early part of the record.  It feels as if the band is rushing themselves, especially when you come to songs like “Mondegreen,” a song full of horns and rhythmic vocal displays, but the elements here don’t seem to be as cohesive as they were on the early half.  Those extra touches that added so much to the first six songs sort of dissipate; this is something that causes the second half of the record to seem a bit less powerful than the first.

Throughout its duration, Odd Blood is full of so many different twists and turns that you have to give the band credit for being so exploratory in their efforts.  It might not be the most complete album the band will make, but it demonstrates that Yeasyer are willing to push themselves, and their listeners, towards a maximum musical listening experience. Cheers to that.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/10/01-Ambling-Alp-1.mp3]

Download: Yeasayer – Ambling Alp [MP3]