Yeasayer have been an extremely busy band since their debut came out in 2007; they quickly found themselves on tour with MGMT (an arrangement which becomes less surprising with every release), guesting on Bat For Lashes' Two Suns and contributing the vocals of their lead singer to Simian Mobile Disco's Audacity of Huge. The industry connections and widespread exposure granted them not only the freedom to take a lot of time over their follow up, but also to hone it into one of the strangest installments of psychedelic pop music 2010 has seen yet. Far more polished, and infinitely more expressive - Odd Blood is a far more charismatic and overconfident version of All Hour Cymbals. The days of downbeat acoustic songs for charity compilations are over; because nowadays everything about this Middle Eastern-psych-snap-gospel band screams DANCE; and not in your conventional sense. This is hipster dancefloor 80s inspired funkpop with the sensibility of Peter Gabriel, worldbeat percussion and the downright quirkyness of Gang Gang Dance and Dirty Projectors' endless list of mad collaborators.
The only real anomaly on the album comes before you're even paying any proper attention, in the form of opener The Children, building up with Animal Collective style waterboard synths and an equally overmanipulated fuzz drone of a vocal. After a just-about-bearable amount of time a Fuck Buttons-esque drone emerges and Phoenix style skewiff melody takes its rightful place above the cascade; and a few seconds later, Odd Blood really kicks in. Ambling Alp is a killer lead single from the album that's been around on the internet for months, and from airy keys confidently explodes an infectious lead line and philosophical lyrical content "And if anyone should cheat you, take advantage of, or beat you//Raise your head and wear your wounds with pride." The song develops as furiously as its intense and bipolar lyrics suggest - into a synth heavy bout of anger with squealing falsetto vocals, and euphoric 80s pop post-chorus.
You barely get a break across the entire album, only 80s power ballad track I Remember ("You're stuck in my mind, all the time") and off-beat psychedelic interlude Strange Reunions detract from the huge mood this album expresses. The latter is where Animal Collective's offbeat vocals and weirdo sound pallete shine through again rather than the usual of Montreal styled indie funk which rings loud and clear on number 9 Mondegreen. The chunky brass sections of Mark Ronson's Version combined with the rushed dancefloor vocal of Michael Jackson take precedence here as ever, driving this overpopulated dancefloor filler to ever more intense heights.
If people say that this album loses its sheen as it progresses, or bunches its singles at the start, I'm going to directly disagree; its not that this album becomes filler, its just that it becomes infinitely weirder as it goes on. As if the beginning wasn't strange enough? Single Ambling Alp, Gang Gang Dance psych-dance track Madder Red and perhaps my personal favourite O.N.E are all single-worthy and lie in the first half, but you only need to take a look at the titles of the last two songs, the manic saxophone filled ska track "Mondegreen" and anomalous album ender "Grizelda" for confirmation that the ending is really going to live up to the name 'Odd Blood'. With such a huge range of sounds, structures and melodies flying off in all directions - Odd Blood is a genuinely ecletic album, drawing comparisons to everything from Michael Jackson to High Places or Panda Bear, and at no point does the album get too weird. Yeasayer have succeeded in exactly what Vampire Weekend have already failed to do in 2010, producing a second album which has added depth not at the expense of appeal, freshness or their long-running fanbase.
File Next To - Gang Gang Dance, Animal Collective, of Montreal
Yeasayer - O.N.E (MP3)
Yeasayer - Ambling Alp (MP3)
Buy Odd Blood on Amazon.com