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First Impression: Yeasayer – Odd Blood

By ; December 4, 2009 at 1:03 AM 


01. The Children

The album opens in a manner quite radically different from the organic sound of the band’s debut. Crunching digital sounds are underpinned by a simple, steady thump from the bass drum, and the vocals are digitally mastered in a style akin to The Knife, rendering them completely unintelligible. Throughout the song, various instruments including piano, xylophone and horns find their way into the mix, working themselves around the beat.

02. Ambling Alp

“The Children” naturally gives way to the lead single, “Ambling Alp,” which is sonically quite different from the opener. The song is much more conventional with a sing-along chorus and hummable tune. The percussion in this song is impeccable, dancing from the left to right channel and adding an additional level of catchiness to the song. Horns are once again present, this time coming in briefly yet effectively at the refrain of the song.

03. Madder Red

This song starts off with the band vocalizsing in harmony as they did so effectively on All Hour Cymbals.This song is much simpler than those preceding, based around a simple guitar and again featuring a hummable chorus. Lyrically, it finds Keating in a more reflective mood, musing over why his partner bothers to put up with him. The song also includes a guitar solo, a first for Yeasayer.

04. I Remember

“I Remember” returns to a more convoluted style, with ascending and descending notes played on piano and produced electronically under Keating’s falsetto. Once again Yeasayer have found a killer hook in the chorus of “You’re stuck in my mind all the time.” This is a true love song.

05. O.N.E.

The world music vibes that were constantly present on their debut album are slightly more apparent on this track than the others, particularly in the percussion. The rhythmic tapping on an African drum (possibly a djembe) drives the song, which is littered with electronic melodies. The song takes a couple of unexpected pitstops at more ambient and chilled out sounds before building back into the full on ’80s-influenced dance sound that is prominent in the majority of the song.

06. Love Me Girl

“Love Me Girl” floats in on a bed of synthesisers that are soon accompanied by various beats and noises, including a fast-paced piano tune that adds an urgency to the sound. Apart from a few muffled vocals, it seems this song is going to be an instrumental until almost two minutes in, when you think the song is about to really take flight it suddenly cuts out and gives way to a funk-influenced breakdown. Synths cut in and out of the song, at points enforcing the vocals and at others leaving them with nothing but the beat for company. What sound like random wildlife noise samples are also dropped in at random intervals. This song is probably the furthest away from anything they have done previously and they accomplish it admirably.

07. Rome

After an opening featuring various types of processed beats, a fuzzy and resilient bass line underpins this song while jagged keyboard lines and Keating’s vocals weave in and out of each other. Marimba also features in the mix, which seems to move effortlessly from sounding cluttered to sparse. A jittering keyboard solo towards the end of the song is a random but enjoyable addition to the song.

08. Strange Reunions

The clapping on “Strange Reunions” is reminiscent of their song “Tightrope.” The mellowed and reverbed vocals that carry the song will already have people labeling this as “world music” before the sitar comes into the mix. The song is a short and welcome retreat from the more effervescent tracks that have preceded it.

09. Mondegreen

“Mondegreen” is a more frenetic affair; Keating’s vocals sound strained and even paranoid, and the staccato horns in the song adds to this feeling. Alien-sounding vocals and random counting give this song the feel of a bad trip.

10. Grizelda

The album closes with a much more relaxed atmosphere than the majority of the album. Once again Yeasayer use clapping to full advantage. The vocals carry the song while various other instrumentation builds and fades beneath them. The percussion is very soft, giving a certain “lightness” to the song, making the listener feel as if they’re driftng away, or maybe just drifting off to sleep as the album closes.

Odd Blood is due out on February 9 via Secretly Canadian (US) and Mute (Internationally).

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