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Yeasayer 'Odd Blood'

Less Odd, More Blood

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Yeasayer 'Odd Blood'

Yeasayer 'Odd Blood'

Secretly Canadian

Love Songs and Dedications

On their 2007 debut disc, All Hour Cymbals, Yeasayer fashioned a rag-tag collision of junkyard percussion, horror-film synths, spidery guitar webs, and baroque four-part harmonies. Thematically, the Brooklyn-by-ways-of-Baltimore hipsters uncorked a potent strain of dystopian futurism, singing (together) of doomsday imagery and environmental catastrophe. Such themes weren't always immediately apparent; as some of the words were as bizarre and unexpected as any juxtaposition of sounds of conflagration of genre on the record.

Singing lines like “and the pain that we left at the station will stay in a jar behind us/we can pickle the pain into blue ribbon winners at county contests” and “Mary's house in the hollow of the white hazel/rapid whirlpool and the church of hurricane," Yeasayer sounded rather like dudes on 'shrooms; or, at the very least, psychedelic fellows happily beholden to atmosphere over clarity.

If you're to go just by the lyric-sheet, Odd Blood couldn't be farther away as a follow-up. Where the first record featured mind-bending images sung in group harmony, here Chris Keating takes a step forward as frontman, and delivers a set of songs leaning on lovesong cliché. It's all "makin' love" this and "my baby" that; with rousing choruses repeating refrains like "You're stuck in my mind/all the time" and "Don't give up on me, love/and I won't give up on you, love."

Nevermind What Anybody Else Done

Just as the lyrics are unafraid of cheesiness, so, too, are their musical moments on Odd Blood where Yeasayer unironically throw their weight in behind most not-weird sounds; like "Mondegreen"'s weird approximation of whiteboy funk, or "O.N.E."'s ravetastic electro anthemicism. The key development, in both words and music, is a sense of directness, born out of an increased assurance in who they are and what they're doing.

"I Remember" is a perfect example. A bonafide ballad built on sinuous synth squiggles and slippery imitation-piano arpeggios, it finds Keating, in semi-hysterical falsetto, knocking out some sweet sentiments for his (departed) baby. "I remember making out on an airplane," Keating carols, in a voice reaching for 30,000 feet, "Still afraid of flying, but with you I'd die today/woah-oh."

It's genuinely, reverently beautiful; the kind of simple, uncomplicated, uncluttered song that didn't exist in All Hour Cymbals genre-razing, apocalyptic jamboree. Whether you prefer your Yeasayer mysterious, shadowy, and stoned-sounding, or openly striving for lyrical clarity and dancefloor fervor is a personal choice. But neither side of the divide could deny that it's a large evolutionary leap Yeasayer's made.
And no one —no one anywhere, ever, in any time or place— could deny the glories of "Ambling Alp." Four minutes of ridiculous reinvention built on layer after layer of spastic synth shudders, squelchy bass, and reverb’d-out drum-programming, Odd Blood's hit jam finds Keating yelping all manner of hard-earned fatherly advice; from "if you learn one thing, you’ve learned it well/it’s true, you must give fascists hell" to “if anyone should cheat you/take advantage of or beat you/raise your head and wear your wounds with pride,” cresting with the exclamatory chorus "stick up for yourself son!/never mind what anybody else done."

It's sage advice, and, going by the fearless exuberance on display, here, Yeasayer are clearly trying to practice what they preach.

Record Label: Secretly Canadian
Release Date: February 9, 2010

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