13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
The Amazon editorial review creates a thesis of the classic "game of two halves" when it comes to Yeasayer's new album "Odd Blood". Thus one side of the album is straightforward pop music while the other is more "experimental". A deeper listen of this album suggests that this theory is perhaps a little too orderly and neat. "All hour cymbals" the debut by Yeasayer is a personal favourite and the songs Sunrise and the epic "2080" (with its "Yeah Yeah" refrain) should be sought out immediately if you have not yet heard the band and their "Middle Eastern-Psych-Pop-Snap-Gospel" (the bands description not mine!). Yeasayer are part of sonic boom that occurred when the Brooklyn conveyor belt started churning a few years back and produced contemporaries like Animal Collective, Grizzly Bear, Dirty Projectors, the Antlers, MGMT and more recently White Rabbits. No one can quite pin down what's happening on the far side of New York's East River with it becoming the "indie" capital of the planet in the same way that Seattle begat "grunge". What we do know it that for many Yeasayer have the potential to the greatest of all these bands. This clearly is a big claim and is it just another large and potentially insurmountable bit of music hype or proper recognition of the huge potential showed on AHC?
"Odd Blood" starts with the "The Children". Its industrial in its feel, has a distorted vox form vocals and is eerie and oppressive. Frankly it would be a bizarre opener to any an album and its a terrible start. Its crunchy sludge motif continues into "Amblin Alp" the first single.But then suddenly this transforms into the album into electropop dance music with a song chock full of catchy hooks and reggae bounce with a great vocal by Chris Keating. It is the lead single from the album, has been out for months and for some reason reminds me of Heaven 17. It's fine but is it as special as what follows?
The heart of the album comprises three key songs "Madder Red", I Remember and O.N.E. All the anticipation and hype which has gone into "Odd Blood" is fully justified here. "Madder Red" is a guitar led anthem and it's a beast. It's probably the most rock orientated song the band has produced yet and works perfectly. "1 Remember" alternatively is a wall of bubbling synths and much gentler but with Keating's yearning vocal repeating "you're stuck in my mind, all the time". A truly gorgeous collective performance by Anand Wilder, Chris Keating and Ira Wolf Tuton and the best song on the album and with Beach House's "Norway" the best pop song I have heard this year. Next up is "O.N.E" which is destined to be the song of the summer, a joyous roaring pop song that will be remixed to death and which will set the dancers going wild in festivals across Europe (it also could have sat happily on "Dare" by the Human League; anyone detect a theme here?)
Amazon "two halves" theory then falls apart for the next two songs since there is no sharp break. The excellent "Love Me Girl" starts off as a Pet Shop boys style synth riff and then at 1.55 turns in a Prince style funk work out. "Rome" is in many respects one of the most "poppy" songs on the album and is by Yeasayer standards fairly straightforward and very commercial. "Strange Reunions" is probably the darkest song on the album (with the exception of "The Children) and actually reminds of me of Talk Talk. It is a nice change of mood. Alternatively "Mondegreen" is in this reviewer's view a bit of a duffer, the chorus and lyrics could be straight out of a Wham song and before the song ends the relentless wretched hand clapping leads to the fast forward button being pushed. All can be forgiven however with "Grizelda" which sounds like a Bowie song from his "Low" or "Heroes" era and is genuinely lovely and a real favourite.
Have Yeasayer cracked it then? In my view while this album perhaps lacks the haunting depth of "Veckatimest" and the downright sheer exhilaration of "Merriweather", it carves its own niche. The missteps are kept to a minimum (The Children) and "Mondegreen" could have been happily replaced by "Tightrope" from the Dark is the Night compilation. "Odd Blood" is hugely commercial but also has real edge, qualities that they share with mentors Talking Heads. But let us stop rambling, Yeasayer have hit a rich seam with Odd Blood and it will be one of most enjoyable albums of 2010.
on 5 August 2012
When I first went nuts over Simian Mobile Disco's Audacity Of Huge (featuring Yeasayer's Chris Keating on vocals), I had never heard Yeasayer. Needless to say, I went similarly nuts over Yeasayer's sophomore oeuvre, Odd Blood, once I discovered it. And I must say, it has since then etched itself onto my personal list of favourite records.
Yeasayer perfectly achieves that which I admire most about the music industry, namely skirting that fine line between obscurely and independently alternative and charmingly accessible mainstream, for lack of a better word. Yes, Yeasayer is at times a bit on the weird side, and their eclectic style may not appeal to everyone, but Keating's vocals in particular and the songwriting behind it reveal an otherwise pure pop nature at the same level as any other uber-popular hit artist, and I suspect that combination has helped generate much of the attraction surrounding the band.
Speaking of weird, take the opening track 'The Children,' with its decrepit robot singing and bubbly, sleepy beat. I guess Yeasayer is an indie band, to return to boring definitions - maybe synthpop. But it's their affinity for experimentation that makes them stand out in a world full of radio pumping homogeneous hits. 'Ampling Alp' is one such stand-out track, a hit that sports a background story, making the fine lyrics very interesting. 'Madder Red' is dream pop, or rather what dream pop should sound like, because dream pop is boring in comparison. It's groovy electropop with an epic refrain! 'I Remember' sounds like something Colplay could turn out if they eschewed their own hype and started thinking so far outside the box that the distance would make them dizzy; a sentimental ballad with wispy synthesizers and Keating's voice at its finest. 'Love Me Girl' and 'Rome' keep up the groovy pace with slightly less memorable yet equally cool tunes. 'Strange Reunions' is Beatles and Primal Scream, and 'Mondegreen' is Moroderesque with a sidetrack of pulsating saxophones. After the concluding 'Grizelda', forty minutes feels awfully short, and I realize I have been smiling constantly.
But it's the mock-calypsofunk 'O.N.E.' that burns me up every time I hear it, with its catchy refrain and cozy '80's sound. Nicely snuggled in the middle of the album, it sits there as the absolute peak of Odd Blood's forty minutes, the tracks leading up to it acting as exciting build-ups, and the tracks leading down from it presenting a perfect teetering off this modern retro-music mountain ride. The album is self-produced, and it shows in
the quality and variety of the songs and the production. Check out the cover, it's psychedelic. Listen to the music, it's psychedelic. Now tell me, is psychedelica great or not?
on 3 February 2011
Well, first of all this is significantly different to the first, very original, album. After hearing Ambling Alp and ONE I was persuaded to try this album (I had heard all the comments about dissapointment). I thought that Ambling Alp and ONE would be the popiest 'singles' and that the rest would be more All Hour Cymbals- like. If anything, the reverse is true, with Ambling Alp being the closest thing to the first album.
The rest of the album is alot more electro-pop and kind of 'camp' in many places with most subject matters being romance based and with some oompa-oompa base lines similar to Scissor Sisters in places. On the whole it sounds alot like Yeasayer to doing a version of Friendly Fires (who I do like)- interesting, poppy, electro dance with alternative / indie influences. Example of the cheesiness: 'Mondegreen' has the refrain "Everyone's talking about me an ma baby! Making love till the mornin' light!" accompanied by Madness-like trumpets.
Now, don't get me wrong, if you are fairly open about your musical tastes (and quite like Friendly Fires) you will find an enjoyable album with plenty of catchy and interesting songs. I can imagine 'ONE' being a pretty big club anthem, and songs like 'I Remember' making good singles.
If, however, you detest poppyness and only want a unique, melancholic, folky, experimental, ethereal album like 'All Hour Cymbals', then you are probably going to be greatly dissapointed.
Still an enjoyable album, but much more lightweight and poppy than the first.
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Yeasayer's 2007 debut 'All Hour Cymbals' was a lot of fun.
Unselfconscious arthouse rock of almost the highest order.
It had a light touch, a big smile and you could dance to it
and who could ask for more than that in these dark times?
'Odd Blood' is a very strong second showing.
The music is intelligent and interesting in equal measure.
The band are not afraid of a good tune and running with it.
'Madder Red' is one of their finest. An expansive and
powerfully melodic composition with some fine falsetto
"Woo Oohs" to sing along to (nearly always a good thing!)
The dense, synth-laden structure of 'I Remember', with its
heart-felt central vocal performance is another winner.
At times the band sound like close cousins of
TV On The Radio but have the advantage of not taking
themselves quite as seriously and at the end of the
day there is more than enough room in the world for yet
another quality Brooklyn-based experimental pop combo!
The rhapsodic rhythmic textures of 'O.N.E.' look back fondly
to the eighties but keeps nostalgia nicely under control
to deliver one of the albums highlights. Heck! Put this on
at a wedding disco and everyone would be on the floor!!
'Rome' chugs and chortles along happily. The big bad bassline
packs a punch and the ecstatic vocal harmonies are a hoot!
(The chipmunk solo is particularly delightful!)
'Strange Reunions' sounds like the lovechild of The Beach Boys
and Alanis Morissette swimming under water in the fourth dimension.
'Mondegreen' is a sort of rockabilly hootenanny on the moon.
Final track 'Grizelda' ends the album on a fragile almost folksy high.
A strangely uplifting and otherworldly confection.
Put it on at a party and people are sure to stop and listen.
Some will nod knowingly (stroking their short beards), others
will doubtless be tempted to throw themselves around wildly,
so keep the Capo di Monte well out of harm's way!
In either case everyone will doubtless find something
to enjoy in this tantalizingly unorthodox project.
5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on 9 February 2010
Yeasayer's debut release (2007's 'All Hour Cymbals') was a very promising mix of world beats and accessable pop hooks. It sadly sold about 10 copies and was forgotten in all but the most dedicated of 'Best-of 2007' lists. Now here we are 3 years later and have Chris Keating's band of weirdos managed to release the first (well, second after Hot Chip's earlier release) great pop album of the year?, and if so, will it be enough to rocket them towards the mainstream?, and finally, will this new-found direction be at a detriment towards the band's original fanbase? . Answers on a postcard please.
Well to answer the first question, it is catergoritally YES. This is (along with Hot Chip) the fist great 'pop' album of the year. Take the second track (Ambling Alps), it is all loud synths, disco bass and crashing percussion. Over all this Keating provides the delectable couplet 'Stick up for yourself son, nevermind what everybody else done'. The middle eight resembles The Scissor Sisters a little too much for this listeners ears' but the overall impact of the track cannot be over estimated, it is without doubt a disco classic and will (hopefully) be heard on dancefloors across the world throughout the year.
But that is by no means a lone high-point. Track 4 (I Remember) is a tender ballad which should do well if given the right exposure. Single 'O.N.E' is a Talking Heads-tinged disco anthem repleat with steel drums and stabbing synths, it has a real carribean feel to it and just at the point when it feels like it's about to enter a complete freak-out the track just blooms into a (dare I say it) Radio 1 playlist style dance climax. 'Rome' is also a highlight and will surely be released as a single in the future. Once again the song features 80's style synths and steel drums (notice a pattern here?) over which Keating delivers probably the albums best vocal performance, it is both forceful and fragile all at once. Track 9 'Mondegreen' is also resembles a 'Remain In Light'-era Talking Heads song (the work with David Byrne is really paying off) and is another wonderful dancehall classic-in-the-making. These are just a few highlights, but the album is pretty consistent and only very occasionally goes that one step too far and enters the space where even Queen would have decided they were slightly over-cooking it.
Question 2 is a little trickier to answer. This album is without doubt good enough to propel the band towards the mainstream, but I fear a combination of indifference and lack of understanding will prevent them reaching as many people as they could/should. I would personally love to hear an inventive band such as this (or indeed the Animal Collective) being given some airtime on MTV and Radio 1 instead of the usual dross we are force-fed on a daily basis.
And Question 3 is really up to you. I'm guessing most people who are reading this page are probably already aquainted with the group's music and my opinion is that although this isn't really the step-up from 'All Hour Symbols' that we were all anticipating, it is definetely a fine record and has left me very interested in the direction that this band will choose in the future. Gotta love those steel drums.
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 14 May 2010
I won't write long paragraphs about this album but i will say what, IMO, is good and bad about it.
The first track 'the children' i like, as it's an uncoventional and interesting way to open an album. Ambling Alp is the centrepiece of the album and should really have come later in the album. An excellent song though.
Going off on a tangent slightly, but what is it with albums, including this one, having damn awful running orders? The albums don't flow or follow any kind of listenable order. But anyway....
Madder Red is a decent album track but perhaps lacks something to comeback to. The album loses focus with 'I Remember' which shouldn't even be on the album. It's wishy-washy-hippy-meets-limp-rock-stadium-seller-nonsense. The next two tracks (The One & Love Me Girl) are a return to form, but both suffer from being overblown by one minute each, at over 5 minutes a track.
The final 4 tracks on the album don't work in the order they are on the album. Rome & Mondegreen are too similar to be so close together, but both are very good, with an upbeat feel to them. The other two (Strange Reunions & Grizelda) are slow tracks, with the former catching the ear with some unusal sounds, and is an unlikely success and good album track. 'Grizelda', like 'I Remember' may as well not be on the album. So, 2 naff tracks to cut, 3 more interesting songs to add and a change of running order away from being a really good album.
Overall - 7/10.
Oh, and for the record, i prefer this to 'All Hour Cymbols', which, while containing some good songs, fell away badly with way too many 'faaaar out maaaaan' style efforts.
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 9 February 2010
So the story goes, the Animal Collective-Odd Blood connection is two-fold.
Firstly, in releasing a very early, much-lauded (whisper it) "album of the year contender", Yeasayer could be about to "do an Animal Collective" (n.b. a phrasal verb meaning to arise from critical into commercial success).
Secondly, much has been made of the diet-Animal Collective nature of this album. 2009's Merriweather Post Pavilion was rightly praised for its oddball eccentrics and West-coast harmonies on top of a beating pop heart. Odd Blood has been criticised for being its less verdant, but nevertheless related, cousin.
What is certain is that almost from the onset, Yeasayer's second album is a streamlined, seamless and quick-paced aural treat. What gives the game away is the preceding single, "Ambling Alp". If Yeasayer don't have an album of the year on their hands, they definitely have a track of the year from it. Its exhilarating rhythms, playful squelches, peculiar synth spirals, irrepressible melody and optimism ("You must stick up for yourself son, nevermind what anybody else done") will dominate dancefloors for some time to come.
With this in mind, and in a commercial sense, the transformation from the debut seems butterfly-esque. What has emerged from the happy hippy cocoon is a poppy hipster dream. All Hour Cymbals was a successful psychedelic ride through experimental pop with world-beat flavourings. Odd Blood is an out-an-out shimmering experiment in hypnogogic alt-pop. The pair aren't that different, but they aren't really comparable in terms of immediate appeal.
Like Animal Collective, it must be said that Yeasayer's pop is in places far from the pop that some will recognise. And the pair of them are vastly different to one another, even though Yeasayer's "O.N.E" in particular is like mainlining chart-destined saccharine. A double take is required during its opening bars. Wait ... was that Whigfield's "Saturday Night"?
It's not, but it's close and luckily it's saved by quickly lurching into a cowbell-ridden, Italo-pop beast à la Heartbreak. Now with this in mind, questions could be asked of Odd Blood's shelf-life, but as a collection it nevertheless looks set to define all or part of 2010.
Aside from these shiny shiny bits of well-lathered pop, what else does Odd Blood hide? What has it got to match the lovely widescreen lollop of the debut's "2080"?
Well, the opener is little more than glitch and percussive scene setting so can effectively be written out of the equation. And there are no more "Ambling Alp"s, but an album full of them would have been impenetrably upbeat. "Love Me Girl" houses shades of Luke Steele's Empire Of The Sun project with its babbling, sun-kissed looniness and pulsing synths before breaking into a funkier and at times clunking affair.
"Rome" is pure electro-influenced pop and, with "I Remember", able to hold its own, but little more. "Mondegreen" is a clapping and keyboard-led exercise in non-event and as such Odd Blood ultimately lacks the consistency of All Hour Cymbals. It's a step forward for sure but whether it is a step better depends on the listener.
Those that like sugar will be likely entranced from start to finish, those that like salt will also be but there is a peculiar aftertaste to Odd Blood, a metallic tang left by all its chrome fixtures. These can be forgiven as Odd Blood is a phenomenal record, but perhaps in being one shade too far from their roots they'll win the odd battle but lose the seeming blood feud with Merriweather Post Pavilion.
0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 30 May 2010
this has got to be the best new music i have heard for a long time.i saw them on jules holland (tv) & though mmmm i`ll try that,bought the record on spec & it has blown me away.................! `i remember` is such a wonderfully haunting peice. people,do uselves a favour......go buy it.........NOW!
0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 31 August 2010
I can kind of understand why people think this album is too 80's and pop, I had a similar problem on the first few listens.
However if given a chance this album does reveal some really great songs. Certainly better than any other 80's referencing band around at the moment.
1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 14 May 2010
Oddly, it bloody reminds me of early 1980's UK pop. Tears For Fears' The Hurting and Japan (such as in The Collection) to be precise. Sure, it is less depressive than TFF and less pretentious than Japan. But the quirky tunes are TFF's and the sound is Japan's. And, of course, there's also the old-time MGMT ingredient in there too. But, over the length of the LP, and especially on side 2, this album makes an impression akin to nowadays wallpower pop.