Monday, 8 February 2010

Yeasayer - Odd Blood

Yeasayer are pretty much in the perfect place right now. With both hipsters and critics on their side and the song Ambling Alp being the most accessible and poppiest track they have ever released, there is plenty of interest out there for their second album Odd Blood. The good news is that for a reasonable proportion of the recording, it delivers. Not in a huge "album of the year,” statement, but as a decent and often absorbing electronic progressive-pop record. It manages to wig out with invention but be direct enough to enjoy on first listen. However despite the directness, the biggest problem with Odd Blood is Ambling Alp excepted, there are no huge vocal melodies or big instrumental hooks to remember after the piece has finished.

With the punchy Ambling Alp being the most knockout and commercial song on the album - even if its reference points are 1930’s boxers - the next most obvious track is the weird groove and clattering rhythms of O.N.E. This gives the former a run for its money with a near-tropical pulse, and rather like a sexed up Brooklynised Hot Chip, it’s gleeful fun. Opening track The Children seems darkly misplaced compared with rest of the album which seems intent on being experimentally elated and upbeat. With its creepily downwardly pitch-shifted vocal and heavy echoing drum it makes uncomfortable listening. The Children seems to have jumped ship from the Fever Ray album and found Odd Blood as an island to rest on. Love Me Girl is however much more dance floor friendly, starting with ecstasy laden trance synths , spiralling samples and acid-disco piano. It verges on a hands in the air moment before the whole track drops into an awkward funk pop workout; the kind of sound that white soulful Pringle wearing pop lads used to make in the 80's. Finally it resumes its journey for the dance floor again whilst tropical bird machines and squelchy bass close the thing off.

To reference Hot Chip once more, it seems that with Odd Blood Yeasyer have decided to share similar territories. There’s at least half a foot skipping towards the dance floor, half a foot in the oddball / quirky camp, and at least a couple of toes in the 80’s pop arena. They’ve combined all of this with what seems like a computerized attempt to produce something that intends to make people feel good. So thumbs up for the vibe then, but after its all finished it’s not the most recollectable of works. This is an album that sounds like a band still developing their songcraft, but with an openness of ideas. There’s potential there to make a classic, but as enjoyable as Odd Blood is, this isn’t it.

Yeasayer "Ambling Alp" from Team G on Vimeo.

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