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Album Review: Yeasayer ‘Odd Blood’

Next up in my long list of albums to review is Yeasayer’s second LP ‘Odd Blood’, due February 9th. I did enjoy the  band’s debut, ‘All Hour Cymbals’, but at times found it a bit too inaccessible and experimental, so I was looking for something a bit different in its followup.

Opening track The Children had me a bit worried, with those over-distorted vocals and barely a discernible lyric. But then comes along Ambling Alp, and all is well in the world. This song was one of the big hits of 2009, and for good reason. It is an absolutely euphoric song, and is far and away my favourite Yeasayer track to date.

It manages to keep Yeasayer’s more experimental elements, but yet is also accessible and catchy. This is in itself an achievement: Dirty Projectors achieved just this in ‘Bitte Orca’, and Ambling Alp really should serve to expand Yeasayer’s listening audience considerably. It doesn’t hurt that its lyrics ring surprisingly similar to that of Cat Stevens’ classic Father And Son, even if stylistically it is completely different: “You must stick up for yourself, son. Never mind what anybody else does”.

There is a good reason that I have spent two paragraphs on Ambling Alp, however, for it really is the song that stands out above all the others on the album for me. Perhaps, as odd as it sounds, for a band that pride themselves in putting together complete albums, Yeasayer are almost a singles band for me. It is when they push for that little bit extra commercial appeal that they attract me the most.

This being said, the chorus of Madder Red is catchy as anything, even if it only involves incomprehensible murmuring. If I had to pick a second favourite song it would certainly be ONE, which I can easily see being the second single from ‘Odd Blood’. It incorporates an almost African drumbeat, and hints at a very different sound for Yeasayer, but they pull it off effortlessly.

Rome and Mondegreen offer hints of brilliance, however never fully develop them. I Remember is fairly awesome though, with its synth-driven beat and killer hook.

It’s strange, because I’ve mentioned six tracks as offering something to the album, but yet as a whole it never seems like ‘Odd Blood’ is more than the sum of its parts. As an album it doesn’t enthral me, even though I can easily imagine listening to individual songs repeatedly. Maybe my mind just isn’t ready for too much of Yeasayer.

Alternatively, I’m just expecting too much of an effect from a complete album after listening to ‘The Golden Archipelago’.

This being said, ‘Odd Blood’ is a good album, including some great songs. And as for it vs. ‘All Hour Cymbals’, it’s not even a contest.

Album Rated: 7/10

Listen To: Ambling Alp, ONE, I Remember

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