Label: Secretly Canadian
An exciting and eccentric collection of tracks, Yeasayer's sophomore effort Odd Blood is as imposing as it is dance-able. With a surplus of highs, and very few lows, the album seemingly flies from song to song. Its bursts of energy stop and start quickly amidst a series of cavernous sonic explosions. And lest the listener forget the continuing internal conflict that lead singer Chris Keating creates-- a bitter struggle to accept the results of decisions, and to find the ability to move on. Even in the band's youth though, these pieces all fit together seamlessly to create a thrilling audible adventure.
As alluded to earlier, Odd Blood thrives on its continuous and unrelenting energy. Though every track effectively employs its own stark and unique brand of psychedelic pop, the strongest segments come (unsurprisingly) from singles "Ambling Alp" and "O.N.E." The former sets the tone earlier, as an active and upbeat bonanza, wild and untamed through a continuous barrage of sound. At times resembling some of TV on the Radio's more daring moments, it plays off of a spiraling, contentious chorus line, always teetering on the edge of collapse. Its colorful and unique blend of sounds, however, keep it locked in place just enough, while still maintaining a certain amount of goofy flair. This carefree approach is also what keeps "O.N.E" so on point, as synths cohesively clash with 1980s pop norms to create a dance-oriented, yet introspective piece of work.
And this introspection should not get lost beneath the blaring trumpets, overpowering synths and Keating's acrobatic falsetto. "I Remember" is a floating testament to lost love, as the track's somber subject matter pits itself directly against spinning and majestic instrumental pieces. Similarly, the aforementioned "O.N.E," and "Love Me Girl" set up this emotional tossing and turning, to juxtapose it with a more entertaining and enthusiastic backing. In the latter, we see this most vividly, as the full and fast-paced song just continues to press the brilliant dance of the internal struggle for acceptance and peace. Contained in the middle of the record, the three songs fail to pitch a final verdict, but instead paint a picture of regret, the same emotion that teems through much of Odd Blood.
Beyond that, a lot of Odd Blood is spent setting and testing the boundaries of what Yesayer can accomplish. Songs can go from more methodical and deliberate ("The Children"), to wacky and mysterious ("Rome") in the blink of an eye, as experimentation seemingly runs wild. The album's final three tracks seemingly split into three separate directions, throwing listeners off the scent of what could potentially come next. While "Strange Reunions" leaps into Middle Eastern-influenced psych-rock, "Mondegreen" employs a funky, disjointed repetition that haunts as much as it soothes. In comparison, closer "Grizelda" is as subdued as Odd Blood will get, though still incessant with its chanting falsetto and rushed crescendo come the very end.
From start to finish, Yeasayer's Odd Blood gives listeners a chance to really explore their brand of experimental pop. Spontaneous and at times, mesmerizing, the collection's best moments may rank with some of the year's most outstanding forays come December. On just their second album, the group has not only established a style that works cohesively, but succeeds mightily in distinguishing it from the ever-crowded pack of indie pop groups out there. Even keeping similarities with TVOTR in mind, the band still encroaches upon their own unique sense of genre-- a humble, yet exuberant mix of electronic pop, world sounds and psychedelia yet to be effectively duplicated or imitated.
[Previously on Animal Noises: New Yeasayer, "O.N.E"]